Mine water management in particular water quality and aquatic ecosystem impacts, data visualisation and water accounting

Sue Vink uses water chemistry to understand natural systems and quantify anthropogenic impacts. Since joining the Sustainable Minerals Institute her research activities have included water quantity/quality interactions in mineral processing, mine site water and energy management and aquatic ecosystem impacts.

Sue obtained a PhD in Chemical Oceanography from the University of Hawaii. She conducted oceanographic research in carbon and nutrient dynamics at land/ocean interface and in the Joint Global Ocean Flux Program. This research aimed to better quantify inputs of trace elements to the surface ocean, the implications for primary production and the global carbon system.

Sue joined CSIRO in 2001 to lead a program of catchment scale investigations of nutrient and sediment flux changes due to landuse change and practices. She joined the Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry in 2006 where she has been conducting research in mine water management including assessing impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Sue is regularly asked to present at conferences and industry workshops. Sue also provides advice on mining and resource (including CSG) sector water issues to the Queensland State Government, Queensland Resource Council and is the interim chair of Science Panel of the Fitzroy Partnership for River Health.


Sue’s recent research has produced a 3D visualisation system for groundwater level and water quality combined with a geological model. This product was developed in conjunction with coal seam gas companies and the State Government. The Atlas is being used by communities, coal seam gas company water managers and the State Government Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment to better communicate and understand groundwater relationships.

Sue's previous research has included understanding the dynamics of water and salt balances on mine sites to develop operational guidelines to enable sites to meet multiple water management objectives, significantly reducing OPEX and improving water use efficiency. She was also part of the team that developed the mining industry Water Accounting Framework with the Minerals Council of Australia. This framework has subsequently been adopted as the foundation of the international industry standard for mine water accounting recently endorsed by the ICMM. Additionally, she led the team working on formulating a framework for assessment of cumulative impacts of mining on groundwater systems for the Australian National Water Commission. This risk based framework allows cumulative impacts of mining on groundwater to be quantified and mitigation strategies assessed.

Sue's research in the area of monitoring and aquatic ecosystem impacts has introduced a novel Diffusive Gradient Technique (DGT) to measure very low level integrated monitoring of metals and metalloids in freshwaters. She was one of the lead PI’s conducting biomonitoring program from BMA.

Sue Vink's work has also included investigation of ecology and hydrogeology of Great Artesian Basin springs and Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems to improve estimation of impacts from mining and coal seam gas developments. Her extensive research on salinity impacts on aquatic ecosystems in the Fitzroy catchment has led to the revision of regulations for mine water allowing mines to release a larger volume to streams with more effective ecosystem protection.


Larelle Fabbro CQU conducted a strategic biomonitoring and water quality program for BMA mines in the Fitzroy catchment.
Nicole Flint CQU co supervised a PhD student investigating the development of fish indicators in the Fitzroy Catchment. Jane Hunter (UQ ITEE) co-developed the 3D Water Chemistry Atlas for visualising groundwater data with geological information. The atlas is publically accessible and used by communities, companies and the government. https:\\wateratlas.net
Joan Esterle (UQ Earth Sciences) collaborations on Coal Seam Gas industry water issues


Sue has received funding from the US National Science Foundation; Australian Coal Association Research Program; National Water Commission; Queensland State Government and Land and Water Australia.