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Integrated sustainable water management in mining for development in the Philippines

IWC Alumnus' Masters research project to be presented at AusIMM International Mine Management Conference, Melbourne, 20-21 November.
Integrated sustainable water management in mining for development in the Philippines

Abdula Bansuan in Benguet. Photo courtesy of Declan Hearne.

The AusIMM International Mine Management Conference will be held in Melbourne on 20-21 November, and has a target audience of senior mine management. Presentations will cover operations management, stakeholder relationships, human resources, capital investment and occupational health and safety. Under the theme of stakeholder relationships, Dr Natasha Danoucaras will be presenting the work of 2012 IWC Masters graduate Abdula Bansuan, whom she supervised for his final research project. The paper entitled ‘Integrated sustainable water management in mining for development in the Philippines’ is part of a larger collaborative IM4DC project, led by Dr Sarah Goater at The University of Queensland*. 

The broader project aims to establish and examine the differences between the conceptual understanding of sustainable mine water management and its operational practice in selected developing countries. Abdula’s home country, the Philippines, was strategically selected as a case study area, and dually served as his Final Project experience for the IWC Master’s program. Desktop and field data were used to explore the impact of mining on land and water resources and related governance issues, and discuss socio-economic development and community conflicts. The transparency of corporate sustainability reporting was also reviewed and recommendations for strengthening existing practice were proposed.

During his studies, Abdula established that mining companies in the Philippines, like many developing countries, did not have a common understanding of the term ‘sustainable mine water management’, due to the fact that there is no consensus in the publicly available literature. To shed light on what sustainable mine water management means to stakeholders in the Philippines, Abdula Bansuan and Declan Hearne (a current MIWM candidate and a co-author on the paper) visited Benguet in June 2012, to capture the perspectives of representatives from mining, academia, national and local government and community groups over three workshops.

The expanded approach highlighted that collectively stakeholders in Benguet viewed sustainable mine water management as not only being about mines’ operational practices, but also the connections and relationships with local geography, water resources, livelihoods practised and community issues. The governance surrounding mining at national, regional and local scales was identified as a key area in need of improvement with better alignment of national and local policy a key recommendation of the paper. "The Philippines case study approach within the larger IM4DC project was greatly enhanced by Abdula’s integrated water management skillset and local networks and knowledge," said Dr Goater.

* The ‘Integrated Sustainable Water Management In Mining For Development’ project is a collaborative initiative between The University of Queensland’s Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre (MISHC) and Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry (CWiMI), with the International WaterCentre (IWC) and the International RiverFoundation (IRF). The project was funded by the International Mining for Development Centre (IM4DC), which is working with AusAID to identify needs and develop capacity in mining for development; specifically, issues pertaining to governance and regulation, social and environmental sustainability, and operational effectiveness in developing countries.



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