Water Use Commitments – Largest Mining Companies

Outlined in the brief below are the public commitments of each company to optimizing the use of water and the progress made in achieving those goals thus far. This information has been derived from each company’s website and where required, the last published sustainability reports.

Top 10 Mining Companies in the World, by Market Capitalization

1. BHP

  • BHP Group Limited is a global mineral company, with a market capitalization of $92.13 billion. The company is committed to building a water-secure world by the end of 2030 by supporting integrated water resource management, improved water governance, and reducing water withdrawal levels.
  • BHP’s water stewardship strategy focuses on underpinning five main targets, which include value, collective action, risk assessment, technology, and disclosure.
  • “According to “BHP’s Water Stewardship Position Statement (2019),” the company will contribute to realizing its 2030 vision by engaging across communities, government, business, and civil society to catalyze actions to improve water governance, increase recognition of water’s diverse values and advance sustainable solutions.”
  • “BHP’s 2020 annual report highlighted the company is in line with its water targets and is continuing to reduce its freshwater withdrawals; for the year 2020, water withdrawals stood at 19 percent below its 2017 baseline, exceeding its 15 percent reduction target.”

FY2020 Withdrawals by asset at BHP (by source)

  • “BHP Group eliminated groundwater extraction for operational supply purposes at Escondida, ten years ahead of schedule.”

2. Rio Tinto

  • Rio Tinto is one of the world’s largest mining groups, with a market capitalization of $79.42 billion. The company has its mining operations in water-scarce locations like “the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and Weipa in far North Queensland, Australia.”
  • “The group has been focusing on water conservation and water recycling; one of the best examples of their conservation initiatives is Oyu Tolgoi, a mine in Mongolia where the group’s copper operations are based; it is one of the most water-efficient mines of its kind in the world.”
  • In Oyu Tolgoi, “more than 80% of the used water from the production process is recycled, and, on average, Oyu Tolgoi uses around half the industry’s average to process copper ore.”
  • The group has formulated six water targets:
    • “Rio Tinto’s iron ore product group will conclude six managed aquifer recharge investigations by the end of 2023.”
    • “Oyu Tolgoi will maintain its average annual water use efficiency at 550L/tonne of ore to concentrator over the period 2019-2023.”
    • “Kennecott Copper will reduce average annual imported water per ton of ore milled by 5% over the 2014-18 baseline of 393 gals/ton (1487L/ton) at the Copperton Concentrator by 2023.”
    • “The Energy Resources of Australia will achieve the planned total process water inventory treatment volume by 2023, as assumed in the Ranger water model.”
    • “Qit Madagascar Minerals will develop and implement an improved integrated site water management approach by 2023.”
    • Queensland Alumina will finish water-related improvement projects from the “QAL 5-Year Environment Strategy” by 2023.”
  • “The group’s main target is to disclose the permitted surface water allocation volumes, the annual allocation usage, and the estimated catchment runoff from average rainfall for all its mining facilities by 2023.”

3. Newmont Corporation

  • Newmont Mining is one of the biggest global mining corporations; its market capitalization is valued at $50.58 billion.
  • The public commitment to water conservation by Newmont Corporation is aimed at “improving the neighboring communities’ access to safe and plentiful water and improved sanitation.” The countries in which the Newmont’s water conservation efforts are taking place include Ghana, Peru, and Kenya.
  • In 2019, the corporation exceeded its water consumption reduction target by 7.6%. “Newmont’s mining facilities in water-scarce regions increased their average water recycle rate of 76 percent and reduced water consumption by more than 5,000 ML.”
  • Newmont Ghana invested in new wells, ground-water supplies monitoring, and improved sanitation. “The mining facility launched the Kenyasi water project, which is expected to pump about 30,000 liters of water per hour, which will help in serving the water needs of the growing population of Kenyasi No.1 & 2, and the surrounding communities.”
  • In Peru, the Minera Yanacocha is continuously investing in water management projects; the investments have led to improved local water supply; nearly 157 families gained better access to potable water.
  • Other initiatives taken by the Yanacocha facility to improve water access for local communities have been detailed here.

4. Barrick Gold Corporation

  • Barrick Gold Corporation is a gold and copper mining company that “operates in 13 countries located in North and South America, Africa, Papua New Guinea, and Saudi Arabia.” The company’s market capitalization amounted to $47.66 billion.
  • The corporation is committed to reducing freshwater use and protecting the quality of water. Every mining site owned by the Barrick Gold Corporation curates a unique water management plan based on the facility’s surroundings.
  • The company’s water performance for the year 2019 is as follows:

Water Performance in 2019

  • The company exceeded its overall water efficiency target of 70% in 2019. Nearly 73% of the water used by Barrick Gold facilities is recycled and reused, and “78% of water recycled in scarce water locations; these statistics support Barrick Gold Corporation’s commitment towards water conservation.”

5. Anglo American

  • Anglo American is one of the biggest mining companies in the world, with a market capitalization of $23.36 billion. Its goal is to “operate waterless mines in water-scarce catchments; the company aims to reduce the abstraction of freshwater in water-scarce regions by 50%.”
  • “It is also focused on water recycling; it aims to increase water-recycling levels in the company’s mining facilities to 75% by 2020 and have no Level 3 or greater water incidents.”
  • In 2017, 64% of the total water required for mining operations by Anglo American facilities was met by “recycled and reused water.”
  • “The company is targeting a 20% decrease in projected water consumption by 2020.”
  • According to the 2019 water performance results published by Anglo American, the total water withdrawal, total water discharge, and the total water consumption levels have significantly reduced in 2019 compared to 2018.

6. Vale

  • Established in 1942 in Brazil, Vale has operations in 30 countries and is the world’s largest producer of iron ore, pellets, and nickel. The company also operates in the logistics, energy, and steel manufacturing industries and has a market capitalization of $52.61 billion.
  • The water optimization commitment made by Vale is to reduce the use of new water by 10% by 2030 over the baseline from 2017. Vale is a member of the International Mining and Metals Council (ICMM) and launched the Target Water Program in 2018.
  • Target Water Program Commitments
    • Management of water resources of operating units through the use of procedures measured annually through sampling.
    • Obtain, implement and operate a water monitoring network.
    • Identify, create, and execute infrastructural projects within the framework of improving management of water and effluents.
    • Initiate mapping of water resources, and opportunities to optimize usage and reduce collection used in company processes.
    • Maintain current water balances
    • Increase usages of data management tools related to water resources and effluents.
    • Initiate methodologies for economic valuation of water resources.
    • Initiate, implement and operate effluent treatment systems.
    • Manage water loss more efficiently.

Vale — Total demand for Water

Current Hydric Balance for Vale

  • To date, Vale has reduced its specific use of water by 8.4%.

7. Fortescue Metals

  • Fortescue Metals Group operates in the iron ore industry and is headquartered in Pilbara, Western Australia. The company exports between 175 to 180 million tons of iron ore annually and has a market capitalization of $29.34 billion.
  • Fortescue Metals has implemented the Managed Aquifer Recharge program as part of its water management program and has integrated water risk management into its overall business strategy/

Water Management Objectives and Targets

  • The objectives of the water management program at Fortescue Metals is to lead efforts to a better understanding of the hydrogeological systems in the locations where it has operations, and to use water responsibly by improving efficiency and water loss from surface water discharge and evaporation.
  • To ensure a better understanding of regional hydrogeological systems at its locations, Fortescue Metals targets the development, initiation, hosting and coordination of water management forums with community stakeholders.
  • To ensure responsibility in water usage and reductions in water loss, Fortescue Metals targets usages of 75% of the de-watered water at its Cloudbreak and Christmas Creek mining sites for beneficial purposes or for re-injection under the Managed Aquifer Recharge program.


  • To date Fortescue Metals has achieved a rate of 98% of total usage re-injected or put to beneficial use.

8. Glencore

  • Glencore was founded in 1974 and is an employer of 160,000. The company mines copper, cobalt, nickel, zinc and lead, ferroalloys, aluminum, iron ore, gold and silver at its 150 mining and metallurgical sites and oil production assets around the world. Glencore has a market capitalization of $27.94 billion.

Glencore Water Management Objectives

  • The objectives of the water management program at Glencore are contained in the strategic water management framework. The objectives are listed below.
    • Glencore will develop an understanding of its water catchment areas, baseline water conditions, and ecosystems.
    • The company will assess the risks and opportunities in the company’s potential impact on its water resources.
    • Water management plans will be developed and implemented to responsibility manage the water resources and reduce the company’s water footprint.
    • The company will monitor compliance, set targets, and continuously improve its water management performance.
    • The company will engage with its stakeholders, identify partnerships that will assist in progressing the water related programmes, and provide reports on its progress.

Actions Taken

  • To meet the water management objectives, Glencore has established internal, cross departmental working groups, aligned reporting indicators for water to the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) Water Accounting Framework, conducted site assessments to determine high and potential medium risk sites, developed and implemented water management guidelines at a majority of sites, participated in the ICMM water working group, and represented the mining industry in the Global Reporting Initiative water working group that revised the water and effluents standard.

9. Nutrien

Water Management

  • Nutrien has committed to reuse and recycling water in its operations, and to test the water for compliance with environmental standards where reuse or recycling is not practical before it is released to treatment plants, underground injection well, or off-site surface water bodies.
  • The company intends to use wastewater from municipal treatment plants instead of fresh water for process cooling and will reduce its water use by re purposing process outputs.

Actions Taken

  • The company has met and exceeded water quality thresholds for water discharges from the use of testing and monitoring programs and engineering controls.


  • Between 2018 and 2019, Nutrien has reduced its municipal water intake from 18 million m3 to 16 million m3 , mine de-watering/depressurization intake from 48 million m3 to 47 million m3, and surface water from 109 million m3 to 106 million m3. Intake of groundwater has increased to 48 million m3 from 33 million m3.
  • The company discharged 38 million m3 less surface water in 2019 (223 million m3) than in 2018 (261 million m3).

10. Freeport-McMoRan

  • Freeport-McMoRan was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. The company mines copper, gold, and molybdenum, and has a market capitalization of $16.68 billion.

Water Management Program

  • Freeport-McMoRan maintains a global water management program for its global operations. Policies and procedures under the program varies according to specific conditions and circumstances at sites.
  • Goals
    • Improve the efficiency of water use in company processes.
    • Minimize fresh water use in operations.
    • Transition to renewable or recycled water as part of the reduction of the company’s water footprint.
    • Conduct constant review of water resources and how its use impacts the surrounding community, ecosystem, and environment, inclusive of the possible impact of climate changes and regulatory legal changes.
  • Results
    • Reliance on freshwater has been reduced to 18% of total water demand.
    • In Arizona, 63% of fresh water needs was offset from the recharge of Colorado River water to areas in the state needing water.
    • Recycled water was used at a rate of four times more than new water in 2019.
    • In 2019, 82% of total utilized water came from recycled or reused sources.
    • Water use efficiency in 2019 was 87%.

Water Use Commitments – Largest Utilities Companies

The top six companies by market capitalization include NextEra ($90.72 billion), Enel Energy ($65.23 billion), Duke Energy ($64.74 billion), Dominion Energy ($61.55 billion), Iberdrola ($56.77 billion), and The Southern Company ($53.38 billion). NextEra, Enel Energy, Dominion Energy, Iberdrola, and The Southern Company have public commitments around the optimization of water use.

1. NextEra

  • NextEra is the largest utility provider in the world based on market capitalization.
  • The company’s market cap value is $90.72 billion.
  • NextEra is an active steward of water resources in communities where it operates.
  • To optimize its use of water, the company operates only two power generation facilities in areas “of high or extremely high water stress,” which accounts for only 0.28% of its total water consumption.
  • NextEra also invests in water-free wind and solar for power generation, representing more than a third of its generating capacity. The company saved about 14 billion gallons of water through this measure in 2019.
  • It also uses sustainable water sources like seawater and reclaimed water for cooling where practical. About 80% of water and 7.2 billion gallons of water were withdrawn by NextEra from seawater and reclaimed water sources in 2019.

2. Enel Energy

  • Enel Energy’s market cap value is $65.23 billion.
  • Responsible use of water is one of Enel’s strategic targets for conserving the environment.
  • In the last decade, Enel has targeted to reduce water consumption by 30 percent compared to 2010 levels.
  • The company has invested in nanotechnologies; for example, nanomaterials, “to improve thermal exchange and therefore reduce water consumption during the production process.”
  • In general, Enel Energy applies best practices such as policy implementation, meeting specific targets, performance management, and adopting the latest innovations to increase wastewater reuse and reduce water consumption.

3. Dominion Energy

  • Dominion Energy’s market cap value is $61.55 billion.
  • The company’s strategic goal for water optimization is to reuse water and use less water at its power generation facilities.
  • Therefore, Dominion Energy has invested in a water treatment system at its Canyon Creek facility that’s estimated to recycle about 21 million gallons of produced water over the next 5 years.
  • At the Millstone Power Station, the company installed an adjustable electronic-control technology that has “reduced cooling water withdrawals by 33 percent.”

4. Iberdrola

  • Iberdrola’s market cap value is $56.77 billion.
  • The company’s best practices around optimizing the use of water include: searching for efficiency, controlling consumption, promoting reuse, and avoiding pollution.
  • About ninety-six percent of water collected by Iberdrola is returned to the supply source, owing to its reuse in closed or semi-open cycles and recycling in cooling processes.
  • Additionally, it establishes and monitors “the surface threshold levels and the natural flow rates in the hydroelectricity generation reservoirs.”
  • The company also runs “awareness-raising campaigns to achieve more efficient and responsible use of domestic water by employees in the administration and control buildings.”

5. The Southern Company

  • The Southern Company’s market cap value is $53.38 billion.
  • According to the official website, the company “is committed to responsible use and protection of all natural resources, including water, by meeting or surpassing all environmental laws and regulations.”
  • Between 2013 & 2018, the company withdrew 3.7 billion gallons of water per day. Ninety-two percent of this was returned to the source by the system’s thermoelectric plants.
  • Southern Company launched the Georgia Power’s Water Research Center at Plant Bowen in 2012. This center is “the first-of-its-kind research hub working to develop and evaluate power plant water-management technologies.”

6. Exelon

  • The company’s market cap value is $48.60 billion USD.
  • The company partnered with Ceres in 2008. Ceres is “a leading coalition of investors, environmental groups and public interest organizations.” The company assists Exelon in sustainability response to climate change, water use, and nuclear energy through annual reviews of sustainability initiatives in these areas.
  • In addition, the company partnered with the World Resources Institute (WRI) in order to have access to their Aqueduct global water risk mapping tool.
  • In 2019, the company used a total of 248.114 million gallons of water with only 1.6% being consumptive water use.
  • The company launched an initiative in 2019 called Aquify which is designed to use the company’s power and gas knowledge and apply it to water distribution n order to combat failing water systems made with cast iron and asbestos cement pipes. The system uses sensors to identify leaks in the pipes before they break which reduces the water waste and increases the repair response time. “Those sensors are then combined with artificial intelligence (AI) software, a cybersecure network, and 24/7 monitoring and analytics resources into a turnkey professional service for water utilities.”
  • In addition, the Exelon Clearsight subsidiary assess risks in the company using drones and robotics coupled with AI technologies to identify and address risks. These technologies were used in 2019 to reduce industrial risk and water waste in the company’s nuclear plant.

7. WEC Energy Group

8. First Energy Corp

  • The company’s market cap value is $22.06 billion USD.
  • The company participates in an employee incentive program that uses NOV KPI metric to track environmental impacts in many areas including water use.
  • In addition, they have an Environmental Training and Awareness program that is used to increase environmental awareness and increase water management.

9. Edison International

  • The company’s market cap value is $20.17 billion USD.
  • The company helped develop the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold-certified building which monitors the energy and water use and provides the details to the public.
  • In 2019, the company committed to improving water efficiency by using reclaimed water for their Mountainview facility which uses 99% of the company’s water use and reuses up to 85% of the already reclaimed water.
  • In addition, the company manages stormwater run-off for use in construction projects to provide alternate water sources during large projects.

10. Entergy

  • The company’s market cap value is $18.21 billion USD.
  • The company has committed to replacing older generation facilities and resources with more efficient units which consume less water. This effort is called the portfolio transformation strategy.
  • In addition, the company has specific environmental departments designed to focus specifically on environmental issues including water waste.
  • The company has strategically located facilities designed to reduce water use and that are currently operating with 30% less water use than initially planned.

Water Use Commitments – Largest Oil and Gas Companies

ExxonMobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, and BP are some of the largest oil and gas companies globally. Each company publicly commits to optimize the use of water. Details pertaining to the commitment of water use and the strategies implemented, for the same, by each company have been provided below.

 1. ExxonMobil 

  • ExxonMobil has a market cap of $160.70 billion.
  • Although ExxonMobil publicly proclaims that industries other than oil and gas consume much more water, it does commit to optimize its usage of water. It states, “We recognize the importance of water and our responsibility to local communities and the environment.”
  • ExxonMobil implements a site-level plan to mitigate the impact of its operations on local freshwater resources. 40% of its sites are located in areas that can potentially face water scarcity.
  • To ensure that the company does not cause water scarcity in the areas it operates, it implements “site-specific management strategies that include water conservation technologies, use of alternative water sources, recycling of municipal and industrial wastewater, and collection of rainwater.”
  • The company uses the IPIECA tool, which has been designed by the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) specifically for oil and gas companies. This tool helps in the assessment of risks associated with water use in a given region.

 2. Chevron Corporation 

  • Chevron has a market cap of $136.18 billion.
  • Chevron conserves and protects water resources “using a risk-based approach“. Chevron promotes responsible water resource management by integrating water conservation/efficiency into its decision-making; conserving, reusing, and recycling water; accounting for the usage of water; engaging with stakeholders to address issues; and promoting best practices for water use.
  • The company ensures water conservation by implementing several processes through the OEMS (Operational Excellence Management System), including the ES (Environmental Stewardship) process, the ESHIA (Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment) process, and EPS (Environmental Performance Standard).

 3. Royal Dutch Shell 

  • Royal Dutch Shell has a market cap of $135.35 billion.
  • Shell is “reducing [its] use of fresh water by finding new ways to reuse and recycle waste water.”
  • The company designs and operates its facilities in such a way that it helps reduce the consumption of freshwater. In areas facing water shortage, Shell develops and implements water management plans that assess the long-term risks associated with the availability of water. Through these management plans, the company not only reduces the use of freshwater, but also incorporates the use of alternatives, e.g. desalinated water, processed sewage water, and recycled water.
  • Apart from these plans, Shell also uses technology to improve the efficiency of water in its operations.

 4. Total 

  • Total has a market cap of $100.07 billion.
  • Total publicly states its commitment to optimize the usage of water in its operations. It states, “Water is a vital resource for both life and our operations. We, therefore, strive to optimize our water use in order to reduce our water withdrawals and consumption, and preserve water quality throughout our production chain. To this end, we continuously improve our water knowledge and management.”
  • Total limits the impact of its activities on water resources by avoiding and limiting water risks. It does so by considering regional issues and implementing relevant measures, managing the use of water from Day 1 right through to the last day of each project, and reporting its water use to stakeholders.
  • Total uses the Local Water Tool (LWT) developed in collaboration with IPIECA and GEMI (Global Environmental Management Initiative). This tool helps in optimizing local water use through a detailed analysis of the associated risks to water resources.

 5. BP 

  • BP has a market cap of $86.23 billion.
  • BP has publicly committed to optimizing its water use. It states, “Water is a precious natural resource but also a valuable commodity. This is why we actively manage and monitor our water use and take steps to use it more sparingly and sustainably.”
  • 4 out of 26 major sites of BP were located in areas that were marked as water-stressed areas.
  • The company reviews its water usage each year while accounting for regulatory requirements, quality, quantity, and availability.
  • It also uses tools to optimize water usage, including the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Global Water Risk Atlas and the Local Water Tool from the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI).

Water Use Commitments – Largest Pulp and Paper Companies

Five large international pulp and paper companies that have made public commitments around the optimization of water use are International Paper, UPM Kymmene, Suzano, Mondi Group, and Empresas CMPC. Details on the specific commitments made by each company are provided below. In all cases, the commitments involve reducing their water use.

1. International Paper

  • International Paper (IP), according to Yahoo Finance, has a market cap of $16.011 billion. This is the largest in the U.S., and in the top five in the world. Both rankings refer to pulp and paper companies.
  • In their Vision 2020 statement, IP had the goal to “Integrate water management into regular facility assessment and proactively engage with stakeholders in communities to address water-related issues within the watershed.”
  • Vision 2030 adds some specific quantitative goals to their focus on optimizing water use, stating, “Reduce our water use by 25% and implement context-based water management plans at all mills.”
  • Also as part of Vision 2030, IP committed to source 100% of their “fiber from sustainably managed forests or recovered fiber while safeguarding forests, watersheds and biodiversity.”
  • Two IP mills, in Mansfield, LA and Flint River, GA, already “stand out for their water use performance.” The strategies used to achieve this world-class water use efficiency include “water-efficient ​production technology, proactive management systems, and everyday water conservation practices.
  • The company’s goals align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

2. UPM Kymmene

  • UPM Kymmene, according to Yahoo Finance, has a market cap of $13.866 billion. This puts them in the top five for pulp and paper companies in the world.
  • UPM set targets that allow them to contribute to the UN’s SDGs. Specific to water use, they are focused on goal 12.2, “By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.”
  • The goals the company has set regarding optimizing water use is to reduce effluent load by 40%, reduce wastewater volume by 30%, and source “100% of nutrients used at effluent treatment from recycled sources.” UPM is committed to achieving each of these goals by 2030.

3. Suzano

  • According to Yahoo Finance, Suzano has a market cap of $11.618 billion.
  • The company has two long term goals related to the optimization of water use. These goals are based on the UN’s SDGs.
  • Specifically related to their operations, Suzano will “reduce water withdrawal by 15%.”
  • They are also committed to “increase water availability in 100% of critical watersheds.”

4. Mondi Group

  • Mondi’s market cap, according to Yahoo Finance, is $8.046 billion.
  • Mondi made a commitment to “reduce specific contact water consumption from our pulp and paper mills by 5% compared to a 2015 baseline.” In 2019, they saw a 1.9% reduction, which according to their reporting, puts them at risk of not achieving their goal.
  • Mondi also specifically committed to the UN’s SDG Target 6.4 which states, “By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of fresh water to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.” However, we did not find any specific numbers attached to this goal.

5. Empresas CMPC

  • Empresas CMPC has a market cap of $3.915 trillion, according to Yahoo Finance.
  • CMPC has publicly committed to “reduce by 25% industrial use of water per metric ton of product by 2025.” According to their 2019 sustainability report, they have currently reduced this by 1.2%.
  • The company’s goals are aligned with the UN SDGs.
  • To further show their commitment to optimizing water usage, CMPC obtained a sustainability-linked loan from BNP Paribas. In addition to typical financial criteria, the facility’s financing costs will also be tied to four non-financial criteria, including industrial water use.

6. Oji Holdings Corporation

  • According to Yahoo Finance, Oji Holdings Corporation has a market cap of $4.7 billion. It is the largest paper products manufacturer in Japan.
  • One of the fundamental policies of Oji Holdings Corporation is to reduce the water intake in the manufacturing of paper by improving its operational processes, by recycling water, and by identifying areas that have high water risk.
  • Oji Holdings regularly conducts water resources studies like assessment of water risks and water intake intensity reduction study. To achieve its objectives, Oji Holdings follows the water conservation guidelines set in ISO 14001.
  • The company has taken measures to reduce water intake at manufacturing sites by effective water recycling techniques such as the use of water-saving faucets at manufacturing sites and offices and installation of water treatment facilities. Through such initiatives, the company’s water recycling rate has exceeded 90%.Water recycling
  • Oji Holdings has committed to improve its water intake intensity (water intake in thousand cubic meter per million yen) by 1% or more on a year-on-year basis. Barring the year 2019, the company had achieved this target for the years 2015-2018.

7. Smurfit Kappa Group

  • According to Yahoo Finance, the market cap of Smurfit Kappa Group is 8.07 billion euros. Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, the company is one of the largest paper manufacturing companies in the world.
  • Smurfit Kappa’s goal of sustainable management of water aligns itself with the UN’s 2030 Agenda. The company has focused its efforts on water quality improvement and understanding water availability risks, especially in the areas where the company operates.
  • Smurfit Kappa’s 2020 goals are related to reducing the organic content of water (COD) discharged from its mills by one-third compared to its 2005 levels, performing environmental impact assessments of water used and released at its manufacturing sites, and developing a water usage management plan.
  • To achieve the above goals, Smurfit Kappa had invested 62 million euros for making water treatment plants between 2005 and 2017 and carried our extensive water assessments at its paper and board mills. By the end of 2017, the company had managed to reduce its COD discharge by 37.5%.

8. Marubeni Corporation

  • Marubeni Corporation is a major Japanese business conglomerate that handles products and services related to CPG, food, agriculture, chemicals, energy, metals, power, infrastructure, aerospace, shipping, and pulp and paper, among others. The company’s forest products division handles its pulp and paper business.
  • According to Yahoo Finance, the market cap of Marubeni Corporation is $10.32 billion.
  • Through its Marubeni Group Environmental Policy, the company has recognized the scarce nature of environmental resources like water and introduced an environmental management system (EMS) that is based on the guidelines of ISO 14001.
  • The Marubeni Group’s Water Management Plan is one of the fundamentals of the above EMS. Through this plan, participating group companies like Marubeni Paper Recycle Co. Ltd. and Marubeni Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd. monitor and manage the amount of water withdrawn, waste water produced, and recycled water. The companies then take the necessary steps to reduce their water consumption and environmental footprint.
  • Marubeni Corporation has set a target of reducing water consumption figures at its Tokyo Head Office by 3% for the year ending March 31, 2021, compared to its 2011 figures. Marubeni’s group companies have set independent water conservation goals for the year ending March 31, 2021. For example, the Nisshin OilliO Group Ltd. has set a target of reducing water consumption figures at its four production units by 8% compared to its 2013 figures.
  • Marubeni’s water recycling initiatives have seen the conglomerate achieve a combined recycling rate of 32% in 2018. The group wants to increase this figure further.

9. Klabin S.A.

  • Klabin S.A. is the biggest producer, exporter, and recycler of paper and paper products in Brazil. According to Yahoo Finance, the market cap of Klabin is 26.81 billion BRL (equivalent to $4.76 billion since 1 BRL = $0.1776).
  • Klabin has aligned its environmental sustainability goals with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Klabin focuses on water conservation, water recycling, and the rational use of water.
  • The specific water consumption rate across Klabin’s manufacturing units is aligned with the industry average of 28-29 cubic meters of water per ton of pulp produced. Its Puma unit particularly follows low consumption patterns, with a water recycling rate of 81%.
  • Klabin has also set up water treatment plants, which improve the quality of the discharge water and lower the COD and dissolved phosphorus.
  • To reduce water consumption across its manufacturing units, Klabin has set a target of 5% reduction in water consumption through the years 2020 to 2022. However, Klabin could only achieve a 2% reduction through the years 2017 to 2019, signifying that it could not meet its goals.

10. Metsä Board OYJ

  • Metsä Board is a leading European manufacturer of premium fresh fiber paperboards. The company is headquartered in Espoo, Finland. According to Yahoo Finance, Metsä Board has a market cap of 2.51 billion euros.
  • Metsä Board has introduced an environmental policy in which the main principles are environmental responsibility, conservation of resources (like water), sustainable forestry, and environmental and social responsibility from its suppliers.
  • The company’s Green Finance Framework incorporates environment, sustainability and climate change initiatives as a part of its strategic sustainability objectives for 2030. These are in turn based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and ISO 14001.
  • Metsä Board focuses on water conservation, reducing the use of process water, and effective wastewater treatment.
  • As part of its vision for 2030, the company has set a target of 25% reduction in the use of process water from its 2018 levels. The company has so far managed to decrease its process water use by 21% from its 2010 levels. However, the company has acknowledged that much work is still remaining to achieve its goal.
  • Metsä Board mostly operates in areas where water is abundantly available. Despite this, the company has taken steps to ensure that 99% of the water it uses is surface water. By reducing its consumption of process water, Metsä Board ensures that it does not reduce any other party’s access to water.

Water Use Commitments – Mid-Cap Mining Companies

Fresnillo, Anglo-American Platinum Limited, Newmont Mining Corporation, Barrick Gold and Vale, are some of the global mid-cap mining companies with public commitments to optimize water use.

1. Fresnillo

  • As the largest primary silver producer globally, Mexico-based and headquartered Fresnillo is incorporated in the United Kingdom and operates three silver and gold mines in Mexico.
  • Fresnillo has a contract with the municipality to reuse the wastewater harvested from Fresnillo’s city for its mining operations. The company collects and treats wastewater by removing organic water before it is used in the mineral processing plants to cut costs and environmental conservation purposes. As such, Fresnillo has managed to eliminate the need to consume fresh water for mineral processing purposes. The Municipality also benefits as the company foots the water treatment costs.
  • In 2019, Fresnillo also partnered with 15 communities to put up structures to harvest rainwater for 315 houses, benefiting 1,000 people. Through a high compact thickener, the company has continued to optimize water consumption at Taspana and CiÈnega.

2. Anglo-American Platinum Limited

  • Headquartered in London UK, and Johannesburg, South Africa, Anglo-American Platinum Limited produces approximately 40% of the world’s platinum, making it the largest enterprise to reach that target.
  • Anglo-American Platinum Limited prioritizes the creation and extraction of maximum value from metals in a safe, competitive, profitable, and sustainable way through water optimization to benefit all stakeholders and the environment. By optimizing water and other resources such as energy, the company has managed to reduce its water consumption through the years. For instance, the company’s water consumption decreased from 33.4 million meters cubed in 2013 to 27.1 million meters cubed in 2014.
  • In its environmental, social, and governance report in 2019, Anglo-American Platinum Limited promised and re-committed to continue optimizing water use by reducing its freshwater consumption and incrementally improving water efficiency. The company’s site plans include a mine dewatering strategy, stormwater management, water security provision, and discharge management.

3. Newmont Mining Corporation

  • Founded in 1921 in Colorado, Newmont Mining Corporation became the first-ever gold company listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index in 2007. The company has continued to uphold and prioritize water optimization by reducing freshwater use and instead substituting it with high-saline and brackish water for the process. In its sustainability 2019 report, the company reported that it maximizes water recycling to cut the required freshwater withdrawals.
  • Newmont Mining Corporation has other active gold mines in Australia, Ghana, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Peru. Other than gold, the company also mines copper and silver while maintaining numerous joint venture relationships with different entities globally, mainly through the commitment of water use optimization.
  • Newmont’s water approach seeks to prevent tailings water dams, secure water supply for operations, and manage water as an asset by using improved performance and compliance while incorporating all commitments. The company’s primary objective is to collaborate and engage the external water policy and challenges, and internal water stewardship to optimize water use.

4. Barrick Gold

  • Initially, conventional closure methods would have seen Barrick’s Golden Sunlight mine in Montana burdened with water treatment perpetuity. However, the company’s engineers worked out and saw it fit to prioritize the tailings as a significant sulfide resource. The sulfide resource is used to produce a sulfide concentrate using flotation to remove a potential groundwater pollutant to minimize its post-closure water treatment needs, thus reducing the mine’s overall environmental liability.
  • In its sustainability report in August 2020, Barrick Gold reported that it has continued to improve its water recycling and reuse performance other than reducing its carbon emissions. In Tanzania, the company has developed and implemented a plan that will focus on new tailings and water management for North Mara.
  • Further, the company’s intervention managed to put an end to over a decade of poor water management on-site and has ensured that it contains its environmental risks in the future, in line with the company’s best practice standards.

5. Vale

  • Vale is the world’s largest nickel and iron ore producer. Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Vale also produces potash, kaolin, cobalt, copper, bauxite, and ferroalloys. The company is Brazil’s largest logistics operator.
  • As an International Mining and Metals (ICMM) member, Vale utilizes the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) methodology to showcase its sustainability reports. The company implements water management practices that provide transparent and robust governance, efficient and effective operations management.
  • As a mining company, Vale’s activities naturally impact water resources; it is committed to ensuring that it conserves, protects, and develops sustainable activities that comply with legal requirements. The company’s mine and plant in Carajas, for instance, has cut 93% of its freshwater consumption, with a 99% water reuse rate in production processes.

6. Hecla Mining

  • Hecla Mining was identified as a mid-cap mining company based on September 2018 reporting by Northern Miner, which highlighted the company’s $1.3 billion market capitalization.
  • Notably, the company releases an annual Sustainability Report, wherein Hecla Mining publicly shares targets and progress related to its ongoing efforts to decrease water use through the reduction, “recycling and reuse of water for milling and process make-up.”
  • For example, Hecla Mining is working towards a 3-year freshwater intensity reduction goal of 5%, using 2018 as the baseline year.
  • Among the efforts implemented towards this target is a new water recycling program at its Lucky Friday mine, which reduced average freshwater use in process by 95%.

Water Recycling

  • In parallel, the company is preparing to complete water treatment system upgrades at its Fire Creek mine.
  • Overall, Hecla Mining also increased the volume of water recycled by 4%.

7. Coeur Mining

  • Coeur Mining was also chosen as a mid-cap mining company based on reporting by Northern Miner, which highlighted the company’s $1.5 billion market capitalization.
  • Although the company does not currently share any water use targets, it has committed to “disclosing specific quantitative metrics” related to this area of its environmental program as early as this year.
  • Additionally, as recently as its 2018 Annual Report, Coeur Mining shared that it had realized a 70% reduction in water use since 2013.


  • Meanwhile, the company has publicly committed to optimize its water usage through (1) an “increased focus on conservation practices” including immediately addressing leaks and facilitating awareness about water importance among employees, (2) implementing additional recycling processes, such as recycling cooling water for furnace emissions control systems or from tailings facilities and (3) terminating the drawdown of water at sites once different stages of mining are achieved.

8. B2Gold

  • B2Gold was selected as a mid-cap mining company based on the May 2020 reporting of StockNews, which identified the company as a top-performing mid-cap gold mining organization.
  • Like Hecla Mining and Coeur Mining, B2Gold publishes annual Responsible Mining Reports, which highlight water management as the first tier of its larger “Our Environment” program.
  • As depicted within the following cart, B2Gold currently views “water use & quality” as one of the most important focus areas for the company, both from a stakeholder and corporate perspective.

Materiality Assessment

  • In order to further its water use and quality improvement goal, it has publicly stated a commitment to progressing its “water risk management practices,” through steps such as a water accounting framework and risk/scarcity assessments.
  • These steps have resulted in the implementation of global Water Management Performance Standards and technologies that recycle water from production processes.
  • Meanwhile, in recognition of such efforts, the company was highlighted for its environmental stewardship in 2017 by the Association of Producers and Exporters of Nicaragua (APEN).

9. Yamana Gold

  • Yamana Gold was also identified as a mid-cap mining company based on the reporting of StockNews, which highlighted the company as a top-performing mid-cap gold mining organization.
  • As stated within the company’s annual Material Issues Reporting, Yamana Gold has a public water strategy to “ensure operational water management efficiency,” which translates into optimizing both the quantity of water that it pulls from local water bodies as well as the impacts of its operations on local water quality.
  • In furthering this goal, the company publicly releases and commits to detailed action plans, including the following excerpt from its 2019 program.


  • Through these and previous actions, Yamana Gold has shifted 75% of its water use to within-mine sources, recycled/reused 280% the water it has withdrawn and generally reduced water use, as detailed within the following charts.


10. Kinross

  • Lastly, Kinross was selected as a mid-cap mining company based on the May 2020 reporting of StockNews.
  • As part of the company’s Environment Management Approach, Kinross has a public commitment to both “protecting” water quality and “optimizing the consumption of water” used in its operations.
  • Notably, all of the company’s mining sites have “site-specific water management strategies” that exceed regulatory requirements, and include tactics such as risk assessments, operational improvements/efficiencies and engaging local stakeholders.
  • As with most of the previously noted mid-cap mining companies, Kinross also publishes an annual Sustainability Report, which includes formal reporting against its water-related KPIs, as detailed below.


  • In a fashion similar to B2Gold, Kinross has also published a Materiality Assessment, which positions “water use and water risk” as one of its most important decision factors and of great significance to its ESG impact plan.

Materiality Assessment

  • As a result of this public focus on water use optimization, Kinross is currently recycling of 76% of the water used at its operating mine sites.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.


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