When mining companies undertake a merger or acquisition of new operating mines, achieving standardization across sites is a key element in the integration. Bringing new properties in line with one set of corporate standards allows for a common language across the organizations and facilitates external reporting to investors and governing bodies.
In a recent example, when one of our global mining clients completed an acquisition, the integration included prioritizing a common approach to responsible water management. Utilizing corporate guidance documents for water management, created as part of the company’s commitment to sustainable mining and water stewardship, they set out to assess how water was being handled at their new sites.
One of the most critical elements that forms the foundation of good water stewardship is the water balance model. Every mine site should have a comprehensive water balance model that captures all the water transfers (inflows, consumption, outflows, etc) within the mine, accounts for seasonal variations and predicts future water transfers. The water balance model outlines the needs of the mine as well as those of the surrounding ecosystem and forms the basis for operational decisions.
Our client had developed a checklist to assess the water balance models at their sites, based on internal guidance documents. The checklist approach turned corporate guidance into a practical tool for each site to apply within their local context.
While a checklist can sometimes make a process seem simplistic, this checklist was quite detailed and comprehensive and included key elements such as climate change, water quality, and regional catchment needs. A water balance model that meets the requirements of the checklist represents a tool that the mine can use to make informed decision, taking into consideration not only the mine’s needs but also the potential effects on the surrounding catchments.
Our team were brought in to conduct a gap analysis of the water balances at six acquired sites to evaluate their models against the checklist and to provide recommendations for addressing any identified gaps. The six sites, spanning multiple countries, were each at different stages of the mining cycle. Some were expanding, while others were nearing closure or even on care and maintenance. This meant that each site had different needs in relation to the models and results.
We were able to leverage its global expertise in mine water to provide an efficient review of the models. The team’s technical expertise along with an understanding of the local context meant that, in addition to identifying gaps, our team were able to provide appropriate recommendations for each site.
The results of the team’s evaluation generally confirmed what the client expected. The completed checklists and recommendations provided a path forward that promoted collaboration and communication between corporate and site to achieve the common goal of making informed decisions around water management at each of the mine sites.
This gap analysis gave the client the confidence they were seeking in knowing that water is being responsibly managed across their sites and provided a path forward for addressing gaps, ultimately advancing their commitment to water stewardship.
* This work was performed by Golder professionals who joined WSP in an acquisition completed in 2021.