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Water 2018, 10(3), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10030268

A Framework for Assessing the Impacts of Mining Development on Regional Water Resources in Colombia

1
Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD4072, Australia
2
Geosciences Department, University of Los Andes, Bogota 111711, Colombia
3
Environmental and Civil Engineering Department, University of Los Andes, Bogota 111711, Colombia
4
School of Mines, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellin, Colombia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 January 2018 / Revised: 28 February 2018 / Accepted: 1 March 2018 / Published: 4 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Stewardship in Mining Regions)
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Abstract

Developing its large-scale mining industry is an economic priority for Colombia. However, national capacity to assess and manage the water resource impacts of mining is currently limited. This includes lack of baseline data, lack of suitable hydrological models and lack of frameworks for evaluating risks. Furthermore, public opposition to large scale mining is high and is a barrier to many proposed new mining projects mainly because of concerns about impacts on water resources. There are also concerns about impacts on the uplands that are important water sources, particularly the páramo ecosystem. This paper argues the case for a new framework for Strategic Assessment of Regional Water Impacts of Mining, aiming to support land use planning decisions by government for selected mining and prospective mining regions. The proposed framework is modelled on the Australian Government’s Bioregional Assessments program, converted into seven stages plus supporting activities that meet the Colombian development context. The seven stages are: (1) Contextual information; (2) Scenario definition; (3) Risk scoping; (4) Model development; (5) Risk analysis; (6) Database development; and (7) Dissemination by government to stakeholders including the general public. It is emphasised that the process and results should be transparent, the data and models publicly accessible, and dissemination aimed at all levels of expertise. View Full-Text
Keywords: mining; Colombia; Páramo; planning; Andes; impacts mining; Colombia; Páramo; planning; Andes; impacts
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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McIntyre, N.; Angarita, M.; Fernandez, N.; Camacho, L.A.; Pearse, J.; Huguet, C.; Restrepo Baena, O.J.; Ossa-Moreno, J. A Framework for Assessing the Impacts of Mining Development on Regional Water Resources in Colombia. Water 2018, 10, 268.

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