Water footprinting and mining: Where are the limitations and opportunities

Stephen A. Northey, Gavin M Mudd, Elina Saarivuori, Helena Wessman-Jääskeläinen, Nawshad Haque

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    34 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The interactions of the mining industry with water resources are highly complex and site specific, with potential impacts to both hydrology and water quality occurring at all stages of a mine's life. A range of water management approaches are employed by the industry to mitigate the risks of adverse water impacts occurring. Consequently, the significant variability within the industry poses a range of challenges when attempting to quantify the water footprint of mining operations and mineral commodities. Methods for water footprinting have developed significantly over the past decade and have recently become aligned with life cycle assessment approaches. Despite these advances, relatively few studies have focused upon applying these methods within the mining and mineral processing industry. A range of limitations were identified that hinder the ability to conduct these types of studies. These limitations include: the availability of mine site water use data, inventory data for mining supply chains, the uncertainty of post-closure impacts, and the difficulty of accounting for cumulative impacts and extreme events (e.g. flooding, dam failures, etc.). The spatial resolution and data underpinnings of current water footprint impact characterisation factors also limits the ability to interpret results that may be generated. Overcoming these limitations, through methodological development and data collection efforts, represents a significant opportunity to improve our understanding of the mining industry's water use and impacts. Beyond this, several key opportunities for more widespread use of mine site water footprint assessments were identified, including: to aid the benchmarking of water performance in the mining industry, to improve the quality of cross-sectoral assessments of water use, to assess the indirect impacts of competing technologies, and to provide improved water use disclosures within corporate sustainability reports.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1098-1116
    JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
    Volume135
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Fingerprint

    water footprint
    water use
    mining industry
    Water
    industry
    Mineral industry
    dam failure
    type of study
    water
    benchmarking
    mineral processing
    extreme event
    spatial data
    commodity
    aid
    water management
    hydrology
    spatial resolution
    life cycle
    flooding

    Keywords

    • mining
    • water footprint
    • life cycle assessment
    • water scarcity
    • water quality
    • mine water management

    Cite this

    Northey, S. A., Mudd, G. M., Saarivuori, E., Wessman-Jääskeläinen, H., & Haque, N. (2016). Water footprinting and mining: Where are the limitations and opportunities. Journal of Cleaner Production, 135, 1098-1116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.07.024
    Northey, Stephen A. ; Mudd, Gavin M ; Saarivuori, Elina ; Wessman-Jääskeläinen, Helena ; Haque, Nawshad. / Water footprinting and mining: Where are the limitations and opportunities. In: Journal of Cleaner Production. 2016 ; Vol. 135. pp. 1098-1116.
    @article{8a37fcf37cc141f8a6ec8988a00dc8e4,
    title = "Water footprinting and mining: Where are the limitations and opportunities",
    abstract = "The interactions of the mining industry with water resources are highly complex and site specific, with potential impacts to both hydrology and water quality occurring at all stages of a mine's life. A range of water management approaches are employed by the industry to mitigate the risks of adverse water impacts occurring. Consequently, the significant variability within the industry poses a range of challenges when attempting to quantify the water footprint of mining operations and mineral commodities. Methods for water footprinting have developed significantly over the past decade and have recently become aligned with life cycle assessment approaches. Despite these advances, relatively few studies have focused upon applying these methods within the mining and mineral processing industry. A range of limitations were identified that hinder the ability to conduct these types of studies. These limitations include: the availability of mine site water use data, inventory data for mining supply chains, the uncertainty of post-closure impacts, and the difficulty of accounting for cumulative impacts and extreme events (e.g. flooding, dam failures, etc.). The spatial resolution and data underpinnings of current water footprint impact characterisation factors also limits the ability to interpret results that may be generated. Overcoming these limitations, through methodological development and data collection efforts, represents a significant opportunity to improve our understanding of the mining industry's water use and impacts. Beyond this, several key opportunities for more widespread use of mine site water footprint assessments were identified, including: to aid the benchmarking of water performance in the mining industry, to improve the quality of cross-sectoral assessments of water use, to assess the indirect impacts of competing technologies, and to provide improved water use disclosures within corporate sustainability reports.",
    keywords = "mining, water footprint, life cycle assessment, water scarcity, water quality, mine water management",
    author = "Northey, {Stephen A.} and Mudd, {Gavin M} and Elina Saarivuori and Helena Wessman-J{\"a}{\"a}skel{\"a}inen and Nawshad Haque",
    year = "2016",
    doi = "10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.07.024",
    language = "English",
    volume = "135",
    pages = "1098--1116",
    journal = "Journal of Cleaner Production",
    issn = "0959-6526",
    publisher = "Elsevier",

    }

    Northey, SA, Mudd, GM, Saarivuori, E, Wessman-Jääskeläinen, H & Haque, N 2016, 'Water footprinting and mining: Where are the limitations and opportunities', Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 135, pp. 1098-1116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.07.024

    Water footprinting and mining: Where are the limitations and opportunities. / Northey, Stephen A.; Mudd, Gavin M; Saarivuori, Elina; Wessman-Jääskeläinen, Helena; Haque, Nawshad.

    In: Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 135, 2016, p. 1098-1116.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Water footprinting and mining: Where are the limitations and opportunities

    AU - Northey, Stephen A.

    AU - Mudd, Gavin M

    AU - Saarivuori, Elina

    AU - Wessman-Jääskeläinen, Helena

    AU - Haque, Nawshad

    PY - 2016

    Y1 - 2016

    N2 - The interactions of the mining industry with water resources are highly complex and site specific, with potential impacts to both hydrology and water quality occurring at all stages of a mine's life. A range of water management approaches are employed by the industry to mitigate the risks of adverse water impacts occurring. Consequently, the significant variability within the industry poses a range of challenges when attempting to quantify the water footprint of mining operations and mineral commodities. Methods for water footprinting have developed significantly over the past decade and have recently become aligned with life cycle assessment approaches. Despite these advances, relatively few studies have focused upon applying these methods within the mining and mineral processing industry. A range of limitations were identified that hinder the ability to conduct these types of studies. These limitations include: the availability of mine site water use data, inventory data for mining supply chains, the uncertainty of post-closure impacts, and the difficulty of accounting for cumulative impacts and extreme events (e.g. flooding, dam failures, etc.). The spatial resolution and data underpinnings of current water footprint impact characterisation factors also limits the ability to interpret results that may be generated. Overcoming these limitations, through methodological development and data collection efforts, represents a significant opportunity to improve our understanding of the mining industry's water use and impacts. Beyond this, several key opportunities for more widespread use of mine site water footprint assessments were identified, including: to aid the benchmarking of water performance in the mining industry, to improve the quality of cross-sectoral assessments of water use, to assess the indirect impacts of competing technologies, and to provide improved water use disclosures within corporate sustainability reports.

    AB - The interactions of the mining industry with water resources are highly complex and site specific, with potential impacts to both hydrology and water quality occurring at all stages of a mine's life. A range of water management approaches are employed by the industry to mitigate the risks of adverse water impacts occurring. Consequently, the significant variability within the industry poses a range of challenges when attempting to quantify the water footprint of mining operations and mineral commodities. Methods for water footprinting have developed significantly over the past decade and have recently become aligned with life cycle assessment approaches. Despite these advances, relatively few studies have focused upon applying these methods within the mining and mineral processing industry. A range of limitations were identified that hinder the ability to conduct these types of studies. These limitations include: the availability of mine site water use data, inventory data for mining supply chains, the uncertainty of post-closure impacts, and the difficulty of accounting for cumulative impacts and extreme events (e.g. flooding, dam failures, etc.). The spatial resolution and data underpinnings of current water footprint impact characterisation factors also limits the ability to interpret results that may be generated. Overcoming these limitations, through methodological development and data collection efforts, represents a significant opportunity to improve our understanding of the mining industry's water use and impacts. Beyond this, several key opportunities for more widespread use of mine site water footprint assessments were identified, including: to aid the benchmarking of water performance in the mining industry, to improve the quality of cross-sectoral assessments of water use, to assess the indirect impacts of competing technologies, and to provide improved water use disclosures within corporate sustainability reports.

    KW - mining

    KW - water footprint

    KW - life cycle assessment

    KW - water scarcity

    KW - water quality

    KW - mine water management

    U2 - 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.07.024

    DO - 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.07.024

    M3 - Article

    VL - 135

    SP - 1098

    EP - 1116

    JO - Journal of Cleaner Production

    JF - Journal of Cleaner Production

    SN - 0959-6526

    ER -