Around the world, water-related risks over the last decade have caused big mining projects on six continents to be suspended or closed. Production costs soared.
Governments Respond To Water Risk With
Governments Respond To Water Risk With mounting evidence of the economic, environmental, and social risks of water scarcity and pollution, more national governments are enacting legislation to limit the damage. CHINA In 1997, China enacted water-conservation legislation in the Yellow River Basin, which drains nine provinces in the country’s energy-rich and dry north. The law requires coal processing and other new industrial plants to recycle their process water and to prove that there is sufficient water in their regions to operate without compromising other water users. The law was a prime factor in prompting China to develop the world’s most efficient air-cooled, coal-fired electrical plants capable of generating 2,000 megawatts of power and consume 90 percent less water than conventional coal-fired power plants. INDIA In 2010, India approved legislation to form the National Green Tribunal, a high-level court to hear and decide environmental cases. The Tribunal has issued stunning decisions, many of them focused on reducing damage to water supplies from mining. In 2013, the Tribunal issued a national order to shut down the sand mining industry so as to bring the industry into compliance with national water quality laws. In April 2014, the Tribunal issued an order to shut down coal mining operations in Meghalaya, a state in the northeast, to control acid mine drainage and to reduce the number of mining accidents and deaths. As Meghalaya’s elected officials consider how to enforce the order, a $225 million mining industry that employs over 50,000 people awaits its fate. PERU In 2011, Peru approved separate legislation that 1) required illegal miners to come into compliance with environmental laws and 2) established a new agency to review environmental assessments and approve or reject authorizations for new mines and other industrial operations. The law was passed, and the 150-member SENACE agency was
established specifically to withdraw the permitting authority from the Ministry of Energy and Mines and to restore credibility to the permitting process.