lake and greenery

Water use assessments

Over the last few years we have been improving the accuracy of our water balances at our BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) operations. The understanding of the water demands is key for our overall water balance and how we use water. There are two uses of water at our BMA operations that account for the majority of the water demands. These are water to support the process of coal production in the coal handling preparation plants (CHPP) and water used for dust suppression to mitigate impacts to operations and the environment.  

Understanding of the water demands is underpinned by an understanding of the processes that are undertaken in the CHPP and for dust suppression. We have sought to improve our understanding, accuracy and validation of the water demands by deepening our knowledge of: 

  • how water is used in recirculation circuits 
  • operational practices 
  • operational challenges related to water use 
  • water quality constraints  

This improvement presented an opportunity for us to gather accurate information to set a robust baseline for the implementation and progress towards our aspiration for improving BMA’s water performance as outlined in our context-based water targets. Our target aims to support water stress reduction in the Fitzroy Basin through better use of water in our operations. This target has two aspects to improve performance; firstly to use less than 20 per cent of operational water from BMA’s water allocation and secondly to reduce operational water use intensity (kL/tonne product) by 10 per cent against an FY2024 baseline by FY2030. 

The water use assessments have been undertaken across BMA’s operations to assist us in developing our FY2024 baseline and identify opportunities to reduce operational water use and have included: 

  • site inspections of operations 
  • reviews of overflows, drainage and recirculation of the  CHPP system 
  • understanding dust suppression procedures  
  • discussions with relevant team members at BMA  

Through this review, we have been able to identify and prioritise initiatives to improve our baseline information and to progress water performance for our CHPP and dust suppression activities. As an example, operational changes over several years have led to a variation in water level control in key pieces of plant infrastructure. An improvement in water level control can improve the efficiency of the overall coal handling process.