Water stewardship is defined as using water in ways that are socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial.
This approach recognizes that water is a shared, vital resource, and that coordinated, collective actions involving all water users have a greater impact than any party acting alone. It also means that our water management actions, criteria and indicators must extend beyond the physical boundary of any operation or project and consider interactions within catchments (i.e., the area where water flows are collected).
In 2018, we updated our global water strategy to further mature our approach and move our focus toward water stewardship. This includes developing a greater understanding of the watersheds surrounding our current operations, the projected demands for each, and the stakeholders whose interests coincide with or differ from ours. We hope to ultimately implement actions and form partnerships that secure our access to water while contributing to positive social and environmental outcomes and solutions to shared water challenges.
Some of the key steps we have taken to advance toward water stewardship include the following:
- We enhanced our water strategy’s governance model to establish clear accountabilities, strengthen alignment to other aspects of the business, and engage key functions around water-related matters. Significant changes included the formation of a Global Water Steering Committee (GWSC), led by a regional senior leader, and the addition of the Chief Operating Officer to the executive sponsorship group.
- At our global water strategy workshop, where we began shifting our focus from water management to driving innovation and stewardship in the watersheds in which we operate, we developed a maturity curve that identified gaps, where we want to be long term, and what steps are needed to achieve our goals.
- To better understand current watershed characteristics, including yield, utilization, users and future water use projections, we initiated work to address data gaps and identify and prioritize key risks and opportunities linked to Newmont’s long-term production profile. This work is expected to be completed in 2019.
- We partnered with the World Resource Institute (WRI) to help identify water stewardship opportunities across each operating region. Activities planned include prioritizing assets based on water risk exposure, assessing risk profiles based on watershed conditions, and recommending targets and engagement opportunities that align with our water strategy and are underpinned by the UN Sustainable Development Goal for clean water and sanitation for all (SDG-6). The WRI highlights this work on corporate water stewardship on its website.
- We established a cross-function group within Newmont to evaluate the cost of water for projects and merger and acquisition opportunities.
- Because innovation is a key part of our strategy and ability to advance along the water maturity curve, we identified technologies that are economically feasible at this time. In implementation or under consideration, these technologies include tools that minimize and treat acid rock drainage, improve the efficiency of our treatment systems, and evaluate alternative methods to characterize samples that support the management of future conditions. We will also continue to support water research and stay abreast of advances at a number of organizations and universities.
Over the next few years, we are focused on conducting studies to define watershed risks and opportunities within all operating jurisdictions; identifying and forging outcomes-based partnerships to address major risks and opportunities; and setting outcome-based objectives aligned with our watershed challenges and SDG-6.