Water: rights vs mines?

Monday, 27 October, 2014

A piece over on Industrial Minerals from last week highlights the thoughts of our friends on the UK House of Commons Extractive Industries Select Committee on the inherent conflict between access to water as a basic human right and access to water as a basic requirement for mining. 

A hot topic now and one only likely to become hotter, it’s one that regulatory bodies are going to need to address with no doubt increasing frequency and under conditions of increasing pressure. The Select Committee in this instance discussed ways in which the issue could be managed through sound regulation and procedure, “particularly in dry regions of the world like Chile and in areas where fracking is causing concern to communities.”

More in the full article here, including:

- How a mining company can significantly alter its social licence to operate, as well as its economic viability, by changing how it approaches the potential challenges of water supply

- How water scarcity is a key factor affecting a mining companies’ credit ratings

- The rights-based perspective on access to water

- Fracking’s place at the heart of water usage concerns

- Ways to manage the issue through “iterative management” 

- Supply chain approaches and tie-ins with Dodd Frank 

As Ken Haddow, formerly 28 years with Rio Tinto employee and now an independent CSR consultant, points out, compliance with guidance on human rights cannot just be procedural. Neatly echoing CSR21’s party line, he’s quoted in the article as saying: “Almost all mining companies will have a CSR section on their website – the problem lies in delivery… CSR is not integral enough to the execution of mine development plans”; an accurate observation by no means exclusive to water issues.


IMAGE: Salvador dali (1904-1989): Desert Landscape (Paysage Désertique)