Mine site-level water reporting in the macquarie and lachlan catchments

A study of voluntary and mandatory disclosures and their value for community decision-making

Shane Leong*, James Hazelton, Ros Taplin, Wendy Timms, David Laurence

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study explores the extent and quality of localised mining water-related disclosures from the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW). The data set provides an atypical opportunity to study voluntary and mandatory environmental reporting, as mining companies often produce their own voluntary sustainability reports, yet some mandatory reporting is also required due to NSW development consent conditions. In order to assess the extensiveness of mandatory reporting, development consent reporting requirements are compared to a selection of voluntary water reporting indicators. Most indicators were taken from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Water Accounting Framework for the Minerals Industry (WAFMI), but the authors also included additional indicators derived from community waterrelated discussions. It is found that most of the information required by the indicators is also required by the consent conditions. In particular, information relevant to four GRI indicators is reported within either annual reviews or environmental management plans. Consent conditions are discretionary, however, and older consent conditions may not require such reports to be made publicly available through the internet. Additionally, a content analysis is conducted of available mandatory and voluntary reports from four mining operations. The voluntary reports were found to provide site-level information that was either as good as that found within the annual reviews, or of lesser quality, but in no instance better. Further, no voluntary report stated definitively whether operations impacted on water sources. Nor was there any reporting on water storage capacity or the quality of water after recycling or reuse. Finally, Dryzek's 'discursive democracy' theoretical framework on the quality of a deliberation system is used to analyse the extent to which NSW legal and administrative processes are designed to facilitate deliberation by catchment residents. Theoretically, the system is well designed, as important information is made publicly available and community consultation is a mandatory part of the process. However, the system is not without flaws and could be improved by providing better access to information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-106
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume84
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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