Nadja Kunz, Canada Research Chair in Mine Water Management & Stewardship, The University of British Columbia

The 2023 Water in Mining Global Summit offered another unique opportunity for 160 company, government, academic and civil society representatives from 15 countries to exchange leading practices in advancing the mining sector’s use and management of water resources.  

We heard that water and ESG continues to be top-of-mind among mining investors, and that companies should prepare for increased scrutiny in this area. To avoid greenwashing, it is important for senior management to support their teams with adequate internal resources to deliver on targets set.  

Early and ongoing engagement with communities and Indigenous rights-holders is also crucial for companies when developing water strategies and closure plans to ensure that company efforts align with local priorities. We also heard about the importance of effective engagement with governments, particularly to respond proactively during unplanned water crises. 

Throughout the conference, leading companies including BHP, Anglo American, Newmont, Teck Resources, and Rio Tinto shared their visions and corporate goals relating to water, including a focus on how these plans were evolving in response to investor ESG demands and to new water-related risks that are arising under a changing climate. There were also great examples of novel approaches for source control to prevent water quality legacies through improved mine planning.  

Industry associations, including ICMM, MAC, COSIA were well represented, emphasizing the importance of a collaborative approach for striving towards a nature-positive future.  We also had presentations from academics and mining service providers who shared leading practice solutions for addressing water-related challenges in mining and harnessing opportunities.  

I’m already looking forward to next year’s WIM summit, and want to thank all of the participants and presenters for the inspiring conversations!  

Eduardo Marquez, PhD Candidate in Mine Closure Geochemistry, University of Saskatchewan 

It was an honor to participate as chair of the workshop on innovation implementation at the 2023 Water in Mining Global Summit. During the workshop, over 65 participants came together to share ideas on how best to tackle a wide-range of water-related challenges within the mining industry, from water scarcity to water surplus and water quality concerns. We discussed barriers to innovation including the risk-aversive nature of the business, cost limitations, the lack of prioritization of innovation, and the difficulties in shifting our mindsets and habits, from working in silos to collaborating across companies and operations. And yet, despite all the challenges, the conference showcased excellent examples of how companies around the globe, from Brazil to Australia and beyond, are already investing in a culture of innovation that empowers their people to contribute ideas and be part of the solution. 

As Carl Weatherell, keynote speaker at the workshop said, “innovation requires transformation”, and transformation requires trust, collaboration, and breaking paradigms of who we think we can work with. We heard many proposed solutions for improved and more widespread implementation of innovative strategies and technologies. These included financial incentivization to innovate at all levels of a company, reframing how we calculate the real cost of business-as-usual versus the cost of innovating, engaging early and transparently with regulators to get buy-in and support when it’s required, and leveraging associations such as ICMM, COSIA and MAC to build collaborations between companies and across industries. While there is still much work to do in the innovation space, I was happy to hear that a lot is being done already. Overall, it was a pleasure to meet and learn from so many like-minded people and I am already looking forward to the next Water in Mining!