Trucost Blog / 22 Jul 2011

Turning water into gold

Trucost looks at the environmental performance of the world’s largest gold producer – and finds water intensity is far below that of its peers, despite production yields far outstripping those of its competitors.

Water  is central to the mining process but Canadian gold mining company Barrick Gold, the world’s largest by turnover, has managed to produce the most gold while using water most efficiently.

The company has reduced its water consumption per tonne of gold produced by 8% since 2008 despite an 11% increase in production. Compared to the top 5 largest gold mining companies, Barrick Gold’s water intensity is lowest at 45% below average despite producing 77% more gold than its peers.

The second largest gold mining company, American-based Newmont Mining Corporation, is one of the least water efficient. Its water intensity is 171% higher than Barrick’s and is increasing year-on-year. While Newmont Mining Corp. reports no water conservation initiatives, Barrick Gold’s improvements since 2008 are due to the implementation of a comprehensive global Water Conservation Standard requiring all of its sites to systematically monitor water use and institute water conservation programs at all stages of the mining life cycle – good practice from which its peers can learn. The chart below shows the companies’ water consumption and intensities in 2008 and 2009.

Chart 1: Five largest gold mining companies’ water consumption and efficiency, 2008 and 2009

 

5 largest gold mining companies’ water consumption and efficiency: 2008 and 2009

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