Public claims made by Lock the Gate regarding water use by the mining industry in the Hunter are incorrect and misleading.
Lock the Gate have falsely claimed that mining operations in NSW are illegally taking surface and run-off water above what they are licenced to take.
Lock the Gate have either not understood or are deliberately misrepresenting the legal framework in NSW relating to water use.
The mining industry is a relatively small user of water, using just 1.5 percent of total water consumed in NSW in 2015-16, compared with 60 percent used by agriculture and 11 percent by households.
Mining’s relatively small water use is highly regulated by a number of robust water laws starting from the early stage of project planning through to post mine closure.
The use of surface water collected by mining operations is subject to licencing and exemptions that take local conditions into account, and helps to protect local waterways.
Under most Environmental Protection Licence conditions mining operations are obliged to capture rainfall and surface runoff from mine operational areas, with limited allowable discharge opportunities.
The use of locally collected runoff from mining areas by mining operations helps to minimise the amount of water mining operations need to extract from local waterways, a fact acknowledged by Lock the Gate itself in relation to the Hunter River, “The mining industry doesn’t have to pump a lot of water from the river…” (Lock the Gate Media Release 10 September 2018)
Mines recycle up to 80 percent of the water they use, mainly poorer quality water for purposes such as dust suppression. This reduces the need to use higher quality water that can remain available for other users.
This is just another example of Lock the Gate misunderstanding or misrepresenting the facts regarding mining operations in NSW.