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Water Stewardship

Water stewardship

Water is a vital and increasingly scarce resource.

Steady, reliable access to water is critical to the effective operation of our mines. Access to water is also a fundamental human right. Managing and using water responsibly is a critical part of our sustainability strategy. Reducing the volume of freshwater consumed and protecting water quality decreases our environmental footprint and helps us maintain community and stakeholder support.

Working to manage and use water responsibly is core to our sustainability strategy. We have a transparent and methodical approach to water stewardship, built on four central pillars:

  • Conserve and protect
  • Consider other users
  • Site-wide and catchment-wide water balances, monitoring and management plans
  • Honest and open disclosure.

Full details can be found below in our Water Management Approach.

We work across a diverse range of geographies and how we manage water varies from site to site. Our portfolio includes both areas of water stress and regions with high rainfall and excess water.

Securing water for communities in rural Nevada

Nevada is a water scarce area. The state receives, on average, just 10 inches of rainfall each year.  Because of this, ensuring our operations do not impact water for local communities is key for us. Providing water for nearby communities is part of our permit requirements for some NGM operations. Through proactive engagement and a successful partnership, we have established a new high-quality, reliable drinking water source for our neighboring communities of West Wendover, Nevada and Wendover, Utah in a high-stress water area.  


In 2022 we reused or recycled 83% of all the water we used.  Overall we consumed 74,676ML of water achieving a water use intensity of 0.0005ML per tonne of ore processed. 

Our water withdrawal considers direct withdrawal, such as abstraction from water bodies for use, as well as unintended withdrawal, such as rainfall that falls within our operations that we then manage and use in preference of withdrawal from other water bodies.  

Detailed water use performance is outlined in our 2022 Sustainability Report.

Management approach: Water stewardship

Governance and accountability

Our President and CEO is ultimately responsible for environmental management with our Group Sustainability Executive taking the lead in driving the implementation of our environmental policies, the associated procedures and overall performance - including water stewardship.
The Group Sustainability Executive is supported by regional-level environmental leads as well as dedicated site-level environmental teams who drive implementation at the operational level.

Policies and procedures

Our commitment to responsible water use is codified in our Environmental Policy and our standalone Water Policy. These documents commit us to:

  • Conserve and protect high quality water resources in areas where we operate;
  • Maintain basin-wide water balances that consider the availability of water resources, impacts from climate change, and the current and future water demands of our operational needs and the needs of other stakeholders;
  • Develop and implement site-wide water quality monitoring programs and management plans; and
  • Disclose our water use and management performance in line with the guidance and requirements of the ICMM Water reporting framework.

Each mine has its own site-specific water management plan, which takes into account the different water sources available, local climate conditions and the needs of local users and the mine.  We include water risks in each mine’s operational risk register. Risks are then rolled up and incorporated into the Group Risk Register. Our identified water-related risks include:

  • Managing excess water in regions with high rainfall;
  • Maintaining access to water in arid areas and regions prone to water scarcity; and
  • Regulatory risks related to permitting limits as well as municipal and national regulations for water use.

Each month, every site reports on their water use to our Regional Sustainability Leads and the Group Sustainability Executive.
We also track how much water we recycle and reuse because it helps us to understand all the water that goes in and out of our sites. Ultimately, this enables us to identify ways we can withdraw less from external sources. We also incorporate the data into our scenario planning.

Exposure to water risk

Our assessment of water risks uses tools such as the WWF Water Risk Filter to determine the potential impacts of each operation on their water catchment, as well as the potential risks to the business at an operational level.  The assessment also integrates each site’s water data including: 

  • Source of supply;
  • Withdrawals and discharge;
  • Consumption and entrainment;
  • Rainfall and evaporation.

This assessment enables us to better understand and then manage the water risks faced by each site.   

For example, our Jabal Sayid mine in Saudi Arabia is in an area of water scarcity; however, the mine receives water from a third party supply from a wastewater facility that does not have an impact on catchment water stress, and is not seen to operate under stress or water risk.  Despite this, our site-specific management plans take particular care to account for reduced freshwater supply for local communities and ecosystems, including Jabal Sayid and other operations in regions identified as water scarce or vulnerable to water scarcity.  At these sites, we aim to use low-quality water wherever practicable, and we prioritise the reuse and recycling of water in our processes.

We also regard regions of water abundance and high rainfall, such as Kibali in the DRC, and Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic, as water stressed.  This is due to the sheer volume of water these sites and regions have to manage as a result of heavy rains and run-off. These mines have to either divert this water or temporarily store it as clean water to discharge back into the environment.

Key targets and metrics

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