Managing the Freshwater Impacts of Surface Mining in Latin America

Mar 2013
This paper provides a brief overview of the linkages between the primary factors driving gold mining, how these interact with regional geology to concentrate impacts on specific river basins, and the primary environmental and social impacts that can erode the economic benefit delivered from gold production if it is left unmanaged. We consider these impacts in the context of operational scale and the regional differences in background hydrological conditions with a view to identifying freshwater systems that are most inherently vulnerable to the effects of mining and that thus have the greatest impact of additionality. The paper concludes by considering ways in which these impacts might be averted or mitigated through a mix of approaches aimed at normalizing mining processes, structures, and relationships through tailored, incentive-based policies and actions.