Switch Language


Water Management //

Why It Matters

Global water concerns affect us all, putting pressure on water resources and the need for water conservation and awareness. We understand the impacts of this situation for our business and our host communities. Since our mining operations both consume and discharge water, we have a responsibility to use and plan our water resources effectively. A reliable supply of water – in quantity and quality – is essential for mineral processing, dust control and meeting the needs of our people, among other things. At the same time, mining can have adverse effects on surrounding surface water and groundwater unless protective measures are taken.

Management Approach

Water consumption

We use water in the mining process and in facilities such as offices and campsites. We carefully consider local water supply when we plan the water requirements for developing, operating, expanding and rehabilitating our mines, and in our exploration and pre-development work. Water sources for our operations include surface water, rainwater collected and stored, water extracted from the mining process and from wet tailings, and a small amount of purchased water (Bolañitos).

As the climatic conditions are different at each of our mines, water issues and management vary. At Guanaceví, seasonal rainfall is abundant, whereas Bolañitos and El Cubo are in arid regions where water is more limited. In general, we have no lack of water at the three mines. In fact, at Guanaceví we have too much water because the mine is well below the water table, so we pump the ground water out of the mine, settle out any suspended solids (clay), and then release the water into the local river. Ranchers downstream use it for irrigation. At Guanaceví, the Natural Water Commission (CONAGUA) issues water withdrawal permits based on the flow of the river, ensuring it will not be significantly affected.

We are constantly seeking opportunities to minimize freshwater use and we are actively engaged with local communities in Mexico regarding the availability and optimal, efficient use of water. Our main focus is water recycling, to minimize our impact on the local water resources. In fact, we recycle and reuse more than 90% of water to reduce our reliance on fresh water.

Water discharge

Because discharge and runoff from mine sites can impact water bodies, we carefully manage and monitor this issue to prevent water pollution. We rely on diversion systems, containment ponds, groundwater pumps, subsurface drainage systems and subsurface barriers.

  • Our Bolañitos and El Cubo mines have zero discharge into their surrounding natural environments. All water used in the mining process at these sites is collected and recycled back into the system.
  • Our Guanaceví mine discharges water in accordance with regulatory requirements and corporate standards, which include consideration of aquatic and land-based ecosystem environments, as well as potential downstream community users. Guanaceví operates in a climactic region with abundant water, and excess groundwater seeps into the mine. Here, we pump inert water from the mine, check the water for quality and then release it into the Guanaceví River. We also supply water to Guanaceví for non-potable use in the community. Guanaceví has a water treatment plant for the campsite.

Our Performance In 2017

  • We reduced total water consumption by 5%, from 5.38 million m3 in 2016 to 5.13 million m3 last year. In particular, we decreased our total fresh water consumption by 40%. Our Bolañitos mine accounted for the bulk of this reduction (from 160,000 m3 to 45,000 m3 of fresh water), achieved through water efficiency improvements, installing a valve system to control water intake only when needed, and a heavier rainy season that allowed greater rainwater collection.
  • There was a corresponding improvement in our efficiency of water use, with water withdrawal intensity dropping 30% from 0.30 to 0.21 m3 per tonne of processed material.
  • Total water recycled remained around 90% at all three sites. Our Guanaceví site leads the way at 95% because since 2013 the mine has used a dry stack filter press, which removes water from wet tailings before depositing them in the tailings pond. This results in almost dry tailings, which need less space and therefore extend the life of this tailings pond.

2018 Priorities

  • Maintain fresh water intensity in the range of 0.2 and 0.25 (intensity is amount of m3 used per tonne processed).

We are constantly seeking opportunities to minimize fresh water use and we are actively engaged with the local communities regarding the availability and optimal, efficient use of water.