The exposure of global base metal resources to water criticality, scarcity and climate change

Northey, S, Mudd, G, Werner, T, Jowitt, S, Haque, N, Yellishetty, M and Weng, Z 2017, 'The exposure of global base metal resources to water criticality, scarcity and climate change', Global Environmental Change, vol. 44, pp. 109-124.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title The exposure of global base metal resources to water criticality, scarcity and climate change
Author(s) Northey, S
Mudd, G
Werner, T
Jowitt, S
Haque, N
Yellishetty, M
Weng, Z
Year 2017
Journal name Global Environmental Change
Volume number 44
Start page 109
End page 124
Total pages 16
Publisher Elsevier
Abstract Mining operations are vital to sustaining our modern way of life and are often located in areas that have limited water supplies or are at an increased risk of the effects of climate change. However, few studies have considered the interactions between the mining industry and water resources on a global scale. These interactions are often complex and site specific, and so an understanding of the local water contexts of individual mining projects is required before associated risks can be adequately assessed. Here, we address this important issue by providing the first quantitative assessment of the contextual water risks facing the global base metal mining industry, focusing on the location of known copper, lead, zinc and nickel resources. The relative exposure of copper, lead-zinc and nickel resources to water risks were assessed by considering a variety of spatial water indices, with each providing a different perspective of contextual water risks. Provincial data was considered for water criticality (CRIT), supply risk (SR), vulnerability to supply restrictions (VSR) and the environmental implications (EI) of water use. Additionally, watershed or sub-basin scale data for blue water scarcity (BWS), the water stress index (WSI), the available water remaining (AWaRe), basin internal evaporation recycling (BIER) ratios and the water depletion index (WDI) were also considered, as these have particular relevance for life cycle assessment and water footprint studies. All of the indices indicate that global copper resources are more exposed to water risks than lead-zinc or nickel resources, in part due to the large copper endowment of countries such as Chile and Peru that experience high water criticality, stress and scarcity. Copper resources are located in regions where water consumption is more likely to contribute to long-term decreases in water availability and also where evaporation is less likely to re-precipitate in the same drainage basin to c
Subject Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified
Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Base metal mining
Climate change
Copper
Lead-zinc
Nickel
Water risk
DOI - identifier 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2017.04.004
Copyright notice © 2017 Elsevier Ltd
ISSN 0959-3780
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