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SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation

With our strong focus on sustainable development there is great potential for ICMM to support the mining and metals industry in making an important and lasting contribution towards the UN’s global goals. We work with members and partners to catalyse lasting social and economic progress that supports an end to poverty, protects the planet and ensures prosperity for all.

SDG6 calls for universal access to drinking water and sanitation along with addressing issues of quality and supply, in tandem with improved water management to protect ecosystems and build resilience.

Water is a precious shared resource with high social, cultural, environmental and economic value. Access to clean water is a basic human right and fundamental for healthy functioning ecosystems. However, lack of access to drinking water and sanitation affects billions of people, especially the poorest, and contributes to disease and millions of deaths annually. Water continues to be an undervalued, badly managed and under-prioritised resource in many countries, despite its fundamental importance to human life and the natural world.

How is this relevant to mining and metals?

Water is a critical resource for mining and metals operations. It is essential for the health and well-being of employees and at every stage in a mine’s life cycle. Mining and metals operations can be significant users of water and can also negatively impact water access and quality if sound water management practices are not applied.

What companies need to know to manage impacts or make a positive contribution

  1. The availability and quality of water resources (surface and groundwater) local to their operations and associated risks.

  2. How these water resources support local communities and ecosystems.

  3. The needs and priorities of other water users at a catchment level.

  4. Existing water access and sanitation challenges and how your activities may exacerbate these.

Minimising negative impacts

Maximising positive contributions

  • Reduce demand through improved efficiencies and use alternative low-quality sources where possible.

  • Manage water effectively and minimise, treat and control discharges.

  • Monitor water use and quality (and involve the community in the process) and adjust water management practices if needed.

  • Ensure all employees have access to clean drinking water and adequate toilets in the workplace.

  • Engage with other water users to understand their needs and priorities and collaborate with them to mitigate shared water risks and support equitable access.

  • Explore the potential for shared use of water infrastructure with local communities.

  • Publicly report on water usage, material water risks and performance, and share monitoring data with regulators to support management efforts.

  • Work with others to ensure that accurate and trusted measurement, analysis and testing facilities for water are available in-country.