Water management performance
The majority of our water is sourced from the dewatering of our mines, closely followed by surface and rainwater. Additional water sources include, in a descending order by quantity: brackish / seawater, water supplied by third parties, and residual water retained as moisture in our mined ores. The majority of the water supplied by third parties is of lower quality, such as treated wastewater, and primarily used for processing purposes. Less than 2% of our total water input would be considered potable water, and this source is mainly used for human consumption.
Share of sources of water input in 2019 (percent)
Surface water including rainwater
Groundwater (primarily from mine dewatering)
Brackish / seawater
Third party sources
Water retained as moisture in mined ores
Our water indicators, metrics, and definitions are aligned with the Water Accounting Framework (WAF) of the Minerals Council of Australia, recognized as an internationally-recognized best practice.
The metrics “Total Water Withdrawal” and “Total Water Discharge” are externally-assured (limited) by a third-party assurance provider in accordance with the International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) 3000.
We monitor and record our water-related impacts, incidents, grievances and fines in our internal sustainable development database and investigate all cases, where appropriate, to address any impact on water sources.
According to the Glencore Corporate Risk Management Framework, we classify the severity of all sustainability-related incidents against a five-point scale from negligible, to minor, moderate, major and catastrophic. We publicly commit to no major or catastrophic incidents.
Our water-related risks are assessed based on two approaches:
- Assessment of our sites with a high-risk of water-related risks, extended to include sites identified as medium-risk with additional water-related reputational risks.
- Our annual water-risk survey covering all our assets and providing an update on asset-level water risks, opportunities and targets.
We assess all risks irrespective of their risk classification and put in place appropriate preventive and mitigating controls.
Risks having the potential to cause a material impact on our business include the following: severe weather events, acid mine drainage (AMD)/acid rock drainage (ARD)/leaching to groundwater, changing regulations, and potential adverse impacts on water availability (volume or quality).
We have also identified and implemented various water-sharing and saving opportunities to conserve water, reduce operational water dependency, and mitigate potential environmental and local community impacts. Representative initiatives are presented in our case studies.
We have established goals and targets for specific assets to improve our overall water performance, encouraging a catchment context-based approach, in accordance with ICMM and international best practice. Our site-specific targets are presented in our Water Report.
We are committed to transparency and undertake a variety of engagement strategies to communicate with our stakeholders. Supporting these efforts, we encourage our assets to also participate in collaborative community-based water projects. Examples can be found in our case studies.
In Canada, our Horne copper smelter uses the same water source, Dufault Lake, and pumping distribution system as the Rouyn-Noranda city, with a population of around 40,000 people. The shared water resource was a key factor for selecting Horne Smelter to run a pilot study on implementing a catchment-based water management approach. Through this initiative, Rouyn-Noranda council and Horne Smelter are collaborating on a risk analysis of Dufault Lake’s watershed, to identify potential risks that could cause deterioration in water quality or available volumes. While the core part of the study has yet to start, Horne Smelter has already initiated several actions to improve its identification and understanding of the water risks related to its operations. Through working together, Rouyn-Noranda council and Horne Smelter hope to ensure a secure water supply for the local population and the smelter.
At La Jagua, one of Prodeco’s mines, water, from both rainfall and groundwater, enters its two pits and requires constant dewatering activities.
In late 2018, La Jagua recorded an increase in the acidity of the water discharged into the Santa Cruz Creek, triggering La Jagua’s emergency response plan, which immediately suspended dewatering activities. This resulted in a temporary impact on the aquatic ecosystem of this natural water stream and La Jagua established a process to evaluate and remediate these impacts.
Its actions included sampling and monitoring the Santa Cruz Creek’s water quality, as well as that in other downstream water bodies. La Jagua engaged with the communities living in the impacted area advising that they should not use water during the short-term remediation period. The environment team rescued and rehabilitated fish and aquatic fauna.
During the remediation period, national and regional environmental authorities visited La Jagua to review the incident and Prodeco’s response. Following the visit, the National Authority of Environmental Licences (ANLA) established a preventative measure that suspended Prodeco’s environmental permit for discharging water into the Santa Cruz Creek until Prodeco completed the corrective actions.
Prodeco brought in external consultants to understand why the incident had happened. Acid rock drainage (ARD), caused by rocks (pyrite) exposed to the atmosphere, was identified as the root cause. This was the first time a significant ARD issue was identified at the La Jagua mine and in the mining industry in Colombia as a whole. The high volume of acid water building up in the pit became a significant challenge.
Prodeco recognised that any water treatment system needs to ensure the water quality meets environmental standards and does not have any additional environmental impacts on the area. La Jagua considered two possible solutions – one treating the acidic water with lime and one with caustic soda, eventually settling on the second option due to better overall benefits such as a lower demands on water and energy.
Prodeco successfully designed, installed and tested the water treatment plant in the third quarter of 2019 and ultimately started the treatment and discharge of the water after the ANLA lifted the environmental permit suspension.
Local, regional and national government representatives were involved throughout the process, evaluating progress and the results. ANLA recognized Prodeco’s rapid and professional response to the challenging situation created by the ARD issue.
Antapaccay implemented a comprehensive water management system to record and assess water quality trends and establish a water balance. Antapaccay sources 77% of its operational water requirements from recycled/reused water, reducing withdrawals from local sources. Antapaccay also undertakes routine participatory water monitoring with local community representatives at approximately 68 government-approved locations, and developed external training programmes, including community school science programmes, with a focus on responsible water management.
It has advanced progressive reclamation efforts of the land and drainage systems in operational areas where mining has finished.
Antapaccay is committed to effectively managing shared water resources and collaborates with local government and nearby communities on several large-scale community water infrastructure projects, including:
- Installing an irrigation system for managing water for agricultural purposes and constructing a reservoir to collect and distribute rainwater for 10 communities. Antapaccay is engaging with the Provincial Municipality of Espinar, the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, local authorities and the affected communities over the course of the project.
- Responding to the local population’s need for improved drinking water and sanitation services, which are currently available for many residents for just two to four hours per day.
For this, feasibility studies are underway to improve an existing dam and potable water treatment plant and expand water catchment structures by constructing four reservoirs and optimising two existing ones. The project will ensure the adequate collection and disposal of wastewater and sewage through the renewal of pipework and expanding connections to residential properties.
Antapaccay plans to begin construction in 2021 and complete it in 2023. The project will improve access to water and sanitation for over 57,000 inhabitants.
Our Kazzinc operation receives much of its power from the Bukhtarma Hydroelectric Power Plant. The Bukhtarma Hydroelectric Power Plant created the Bukhtarma water reservoir on the Irtysh River. It is the largest water reservoir in Kazakhstan and one of the five largest manmade water reservoirs in the world.
In 2019, Kazzinc entered into a partnership with Kazakhstan’s Research Center of Fishery to research the region’s fish resources. The research investigates the impacts on fish resources from the Bukhtarma Hydroelectric Power Plant through looking at the biodiversity of the reservoir and the actions needed to restore natural resources and support flora and fauna to flourish. The research will make recommendations on compensations potentially required for this section of the Irtysh River.
The research showed a need to regularly replenish fish stocks, while investigating means to protect fish from the processes of the hydroelectric power plant. Kazzinc signed an agreement with the Bukhtarma Fish Hatchery Ltd for fry raising.
During 2019, Kazzinc released a huge number of juvenile common carp into the Bukhtarma reservoir.
Mikhail Ivanov, HSEC Engineer at Bukhtarma Hydro, said: “We chose the location and timing of the fish restocking on the recommendations provided by the Research Center of Fishery. We have released more than 890,000 of juvenile common carp at a cost of around 19.6 million tenge”.
PCM has supported the drilling, construction and maintenance of water wells and towers that benefit the communities living close to its activities. Over time, the water infrastructure requires maintenance to support an efficient delivery of drinking water.
PCM identified that the poor maintenance of the water infrastructure was partly due to communities lacking the funds to pay for skilled technicians and spare parts. The technicians are based in the larger urban areas, which resulted in both a delay and a ‘call-out’ cost.
PCM provided a six-day training course for 24 members of the community management committees in 12 cantons. The training included studying all types of pumps and hands-on training on two broken water wells. Through training local community members to maintain and service the water wells, the local communities would achieve a considerable cost saving and ensure a less disrupted water supply.
In addition to continuing the supply of drinking water, the management took on voluntary responsibility and ownership for their communities’ water infrastructure, which has led to improved maintenance and servicing.
As a result of PCM’s investment in water infrastructure and the training programme, over 220,000 people in 24 cantons have access to drinking water.
Glencore Coal South Africa (GCSA) constructed a reverse-osmosis, water reclamation plant to treat mine-affected water from its Tweefontein, Goedgevonden and iMpunzi coal complexes. The plant’s capacity aligns with GCSA’s long-term water treatment strategy requirements, which support current mining operations, as well as having a long-term objective of managing and treating water to prevent mine-affected water entering into a fresh water resources, in accordance with GCSA’ water-use license conditions following eventual mine closure.
The construction project included associated infrastructure such as boreholes (abstraction points in old underground workings), pumps, reservoirs, pipelines, storage ponds and a potable water treatment facility.
The three coal complexes use mined-out underground workings to store mine-affected water. The plant extracts water from these storage sites and uses the reverse osmosis treatment to achieve drinking water quality. This water is then disinfected and stabilised, to be supplied to users.
The plant was commissioned in January 2016 and currently produces around 9ML per day of potable water, some of which is distributed via a 16km pipeline to the Phola Township. The plant also meets the potable water requirements for the Tweefontein operations and, in the longer term, will also provide potable water to the Goedgevonden and iMpunzi operations.
This approach will reduce GCSA’s water usage footprint through decreasing its withdrawals from external sources such as dams and rivers.
The first water was supplied to the Phola Township in October 2018 via the Emalahleni Local Municipality infrastructure. The infrastructure required for the potable water treatment was provided by Glencore, but the connecting pipeline was provided by the municipality.
Going forward, GCSA will upgrade the plant to increase its throughput to 17.6ML per day, which is in line with the medium to long-term water balance requirements, and the prevention of decanting of mine-affected water.
In the Hunter Valley, Australia, we have implemented a water sharing strategy to minimise the risk of water scarcity and flooding through the development of the Greater Ravensworth Water Sharing Network. The Network links our Liddell, Mount Owen, Integra and Ravensworth coal complexes to allow the transfer of excess water between these operations. We have completed a number of projects over the years, including duplicating and upgrading pipelines and installing differential flow meters. The Network has enabled these operations to mitigate risks from periods of water scarcity and flooding and supported the feasibility of expansion projects. The Network has also reduced operating costs through sharing water between operations and reducing the amount of water withdrawn and discharged.
We have commenced work to link our tailings management across these operations, creating further opportunities for recycling and increasing water efficiency. In addition, we have extended the Network to an adjacent non-Glencore operation that has a water surplus further increasing the use of recycled water in the Network.
Our Greater Ravensworth Water Sharing Network is substantially reducing the amount of water our operations withdraw from the Hunter River.