According to the company’s 2012 sustainability report, the year-on-year increase was mainly due to greater water consumption at its Los Bronces copper mine in Chile and its Barro Alto nickel plant in Brazil.

It said that despite acquisitions, expansions and production increases, and taking into account divestments, the group has maintained a “reasonably stable level of water demand since 2008”.

“These increases were mitigated by: a reduction in water use at our Platinum business, where mining and processing activities were suspended for several weeks owing to unprotected industrial action; a significant increase in water recycling at Los Bronces; and a number of water-savings projects implemented around the Group,” the report states.

In 2012, 60 water-saving projects achieved a saving of 6.8% against the company’s projected water usage. This included a $66m investment in projects specifically designed to save water.

Last year, 72% of the company’s operational water requirements were met by recycling or re-using water, up from 67% in 2011.

“Our operations are also seeking to reduce their dependency on high-quality water by switching to the use of lower-water-quality grades where this is deemed fit for the intended use. Currently, potable water accounts for only 18% of our total water requirements,” it said.

The company’s total Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was at 17.9 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 equivalent, compared with 18.8 Mt in 2011.

A 29% contribution from renewable energy sources to its electricity consumption helped reduce its GHG emissions, which were mostly driven by its South American operations.

Leigh Stringer

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