SMI-CWiMI Expertise

The water related challenges that the mining and gas industries face span operational, social and environmental considerations.SMI-CWiMI’s research falls within four themes to address these considerations.

Water Management

SMI-CWiMI has pioneered approaches that promote efficiency, transparency, reduced costs, and lower risks for mine water management.SMI-CWiMI promotes sustainable water management to help the minerals industry secure enough water for production and operate in appropriate locations, whilst minimising negative environmental impacts and maintaining a social licence to operate.

Hydrology and Hydrogeology

SMI-CWiMI is helping the mining and gas industries effectively manage their water interactions. SMI-CWiMI’s goal is to accurately quantify and advise on surface and subsurface hydrological risks that can affect mine and gas operations.

Hydrochemistry and Aquatic Ecology

SMI-CWiMI is helping the mining and gas industries achieve effective management of water and protection of freshwater ecosystems. SMI-CWiMI’s goal is to understand water quantity and quality interactions in surface and ground water systems to promote ecologically sustainable development and to provide expert advice on catchment water management.

Society and Water

Water is society’s most precious resource. It is vital for human existence and often has a social value that is difficult to measure. SMI-CWiMI, working with SMI’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, creates the capability for the mining and gas industries to incorporate social considerations into its water management practices.

Regional Water and Land Resources Program

The Regional Water and Land Resources program produces the knowledge, data sets and tools to support the role of mine and coal seam gas projects in sustainable management of water and land resources at site to regional scales. The three main areas of activity are: 1) Mine site hydrology and landscapes: site water balances; cover design and assessment; spoil heap and tailings hydrology; 2) Regional planning tools: regional hydrological models and monitoring systems; applications of remote sensing; uncertainty and risk analysis; land use planning GIS tools; 3) Water and society: water accounting and reporting; and hydro-economic analysis.

There is increasing focus on water stewardship frameworks by the mining sector, as well as ever-increasing scrutiny of mine planning decisions, which requires tools and guidelines for objective analysis and reporting of water risks and opportunities. There is increasing regulatory requirement for accurate water balance predictions on mine sites (e.g. tailings and mine pit evaporation) and seepage risks over the mine life cycle, requiring appropriate monitoring and modelling technology. Guidance on best current practice and technological innovations are needed to manage these risks. In face of globally increasing pressures on water resources, the mining industry is investing $Billions in new water supplies and water efficiency measures (most prominently in arid regions such as Chile), and there is a need to understand risks and opportunities arising from these investments.

Program Lead

Professor Neil McIntyre

Sue Vink


Program Team

Vinod Nath