Water accounting framework for the Australian minerals industry
(as of February 2014)
Many minerals operations and companies have water accounting systems in place to measure, monitor and report water use. However these systems are often not consistent across companies or even operations. This can make understanding industry water use by company or region and cross-sectoral comparisons difficult.
The business case for consistent water accounting for the minerals industry is founded in:
- Improved capability for the industry to report sustainable use of water resources, in a consistent and contextual manner.
- Regulatory reform to promote efficiencies in current reporting arrangements.
- Benchmarking opportunities for operations within a region to support identification of potential efficiency measures.
- Increased recognition of industry as a responsible steward of natural resources, through development, application and reporting of water accounts.
- Application of a robust framework for identifying and quantifying water flows and their relationship with supply contracts, license conditions and climatic variables.
- Increased capability of the markets and regulators to quantify water quality and therefore support water access pricing arrangements that reflect water quality and source.
- Supporting strategic land use planning processes, so that over-allocation of water resources is avoided.
In response to the above business case, the Minerals Council of Australia in conjunction with the Sustainable Minerals Institute of the University of Queensland, have developed a Water Accounting Framework for the Minerals Industry.
Minerals Council of Australia member companies have endorsed two phases of framework adoption which include:
- Alignment of company water metrics and definitions consistent with the Framework’s Input Output Model
- Alignment of company water quality descriptors consistent with the Water Accounting Framework (currently under adoption)
The above metrics should be used to meet an existing company water reporting requirement (e.g. Global Reporting Initiative Requirements). Further explanation is provided in the MCA Member Adoption Explanatory Note.
To support the implementation of the Water Accounting Framework, a number of guidance tools have been developed to assist minerals industry users in applying the framework. These include:
- Water Accounting Framework User Guide.
- Input-Output MS Excel Template (MS Excel 2003 compatible);
- MCA Member Adoption Explanatory Note; and
- Water Accounting Framework - Frequently Asked Questions
These documents may be updated from time to time to reflect further developments, or additional industry requirements. All guidance materials can be downloaded using the links at the bottom of the page.
Training on applying the water accounting framework can be provided on a company specific or more general basis. Inquiries in this regard should be directed to the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute at www.cwimi.uq.edu.au.