JOHANNESBURG – Responsible, sustainable water management in the mining sector stands to enhance companies relationships with communities as well as their balance sheets, said Dirk-Jan Koch, special envoy for natural resources from the Netherlands.
According to him, some $25bn of stalled investments exist in mining due to disputes with local communities. Given that 70% of operations of the six biggest mining firms in the world occur in water-stressed areas like South Africa, a way for companies to build good relationships with the communities in which they operate is by taking on water-related challenges.
“Water risks are corporate risks,” Koch said at a public lecture on the Dutch Water & Mining Platform at a public lecture at Wits University. The “co-creation” platform is based on the country’s extensive water management experience. A video campaign, part of the initiative, showed that almost 20% of the Netherlands is covered in water while 26% of the nation lies below sea level.
Having already launched the platform at the Investing in Africa Mining Indaba in Cape Town earlier this week, he said executives are starting to realise that water management should form part of the core business of mining. But trying to convince cash-strapped firms to consider new investment in approaches hasn’t been easy.
“What struck me personally is that often, the companies seem to be waiting for regulation,” he said.
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