Assessing Water-Related Legal Risks in the Mining Sector

Mining projects require access to water. With increased water scarcity and adverse environmental impacts becoming more prominent, the number of conflicts with local communities about the availability and quality of water has been on the rise, and this trend is set to continue. Against this backdrop, Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) approached the Columbia Water Center and CCSI to better understand and assess the water-related risks for mining projects in their portfolio.

For this project, CCSI has been conducting a comparative review of the legal and regulatory frameworks governing the use and discharge of water by the copper and gold mining sectors in a selected sample of resource rich jurisdictions, including various states in the United States, Chile, China, Canada (British Columbia), Peru, Philippines, South Africa, and Western Australia.  For each jurisdiction, CCSI has mapped out how water issues are regulated prior to, during mining operations and post-mine closure, including the enforcement actions available to different stakeholders, and identified the key institutions and legislation regulating water use and discharge in mining.

A template has been created for each jurisdiction, which starts with an overview of the legal system in that jurisdiction, and then provides information on the regulation of (i) water use, (ii) water discharge, (iii) post-mine closure obligations, (iv) monitoring, and (v) enforcement actions. Annotated lists of key institutions and laws are included in the annexures. Hyperlinks are provided to the source legislation and regulations where available.

The profiles are intended as a useful resource for policy makers, researchers and civil society groups seeking to understand and compare how water issues are regulated in the hard rock mining sector in their jurisdictions.

CCSI welcomes comments and corrections on these profiles from practitioners in the reviewed jurisdictions, including with respect to any omissions.

CCSI has completed the following profiles:

Chile

China

Peru

Philippines

South Africa

Australia:

Western Australia

United States:

Federal

Alaska

Arizona

New Mexico

Nevada

Canada:

British Columbia

For more information on the research being conducted in relation to analysing, benchmarking and quantifying the financial impact of mine-water risks see here.