Water is a crucial resource for the natural environment, human beings, and business activities. We recognise access to water as a fundamental human right and strive to support equitable access to water through implementing sustainable water management systems at all our assets. 

Our ambition

To minimise potential water-related impacts from our operations and provide fair and equitable access for all water users.

Why this matters

As a large global diversified business, we recognise our role as stewards of this shared natural resource and its importance to our production processes. Aligned with our commitments as members of the ICMM, we responsibly manage water for the long-term protection of the ecosystems and communities where we operate. 

Recognising the variability of the local conditions in which our assets operate, some of which have low water availability to others where there is excess water, we conduct routine monitoring and assessment of water-related conditions, and develop action plans to address identified risks. In light of potential longer-term climate change-related risks, we regularly assess the potential impacts associated with climatic events such as extended periods of severe drought or flooding, and develop appropriate risk-mitigation plans. 

About 32% of our operations are located in regions defined by the World Resource Institute’s (WRI) Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas as having high to extremely high water baseline stress and/or arid and low water use. In these areas, we work to identify and leverage opportunities to improve our water use efficiencies and to increase water recycling and reuse. 

In areas with excess water, we experience increased water management requirements and associated costs, such as dewatering and water treatment prior to discharge. Wherever possible, our operations identify options to reduce impacts from water, such as improving surface water management design.

Our approach

We are committed to managing water responsibly, striving to minimise impacts on water quality or quantity, protecting the ecosystems in which we work, and supporting equitable access to water by all. We achieve this through implementing our global water governance, including our Environmental Policy, that aligns with ICMM’s Principles and Performance Expectations.   

There are five key elements to our global water governance approach:

  1. Understand our water catchment areas, baseline water conditions, and ecosystems 
  2. Assess our potential impacts on water resources, and identify risks and opportunities 
  3. Develop and implement water management plans to responsibly manage this important resource and reduce our water footprint 
  4. Improve our water management performance by monitoring compliance, setting targets, and continuously improving 
  5. Engage with involved stakeholders, report on our progress, and identify partnerships to progress water-related programmes 

Further information on our approach to water stewardship is in the Sustainability Report 2020, Water Report 2019 and on our website.

Our approach to water stewardship

Watch the animation

Key highlights 2020

As part of our commitment to sustainable water management, in 2020, we:

  • Established a global water working group, comprised of internal subject matter experts representing all regions and commodity departments
  • Enhanced water-related governance and management approach  
  • Updated internal water targets  and developed a group-wide water target 
  • Created a dedicated water microsite to improve stakeholder access to our water stewardship performance and reporting
  • Developed a “What Water Means to Me” video, presenting site-based perspectives, in recognition of the 2021 UN World Water Day

Principles we follow

UN Global Compact - Principles 7, 8 and 9

Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges

Principle 8: Businesses should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility

Principle 9: Business should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

UN Sustainable Development Goals - Goals 6, 12, 14 and 15

Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

International Council on Mining and Metals - Principle 6

Principle 6: Pursue continual improvement in environmental performance issues, such as water stewardship, energy use and climate change