This paper describes some of debilitating impacts of mining on water resources which have a direct implication on the source, quality and availability of water. The surface drainage patterns are obliterated by every mine and some of the deep opencast and underground mines draw up water up “cognate” waters which have been preserved for centuries or even more. The impacts of mining are so far reaching that the loss of water is often thought as a small price to pay for the resource. What is clear from these studies and assessment is that mining is one of the key sectors causing impact on the source and needs far greater attention than currently bestowed upon. This is only a glimpse of the national scenario and does not include the downstream impacts of destruction of water quality in several rivers and streams.

Mining is vast and expansive. It is one of the major industrial activities impacting the availability and quality of water. The impacts of mining on water occur from small scale quarrying to deep under ground mining and in the new areas of Coal Bed Methane extraction and proposed Underground Coal Gasification. Our task to capture the impacts of Mining on Water Resources and implications to provision of basic needs of water and sanitation to the local communities is indeed daunting. The impacts are far reaching and the governance processes are yet in a state of denial and are indeed apathetic and at best complacent. Mining and allied industries are major guzzlers of water and biggest destroyers of natural storage capacity and the most important cause for deterioration of water quality. The future of water resources is seriously at stake.

In an analysis of a cross-section of 123 mining projects which were granted environmental clearance by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2007, a startling 136 Million Litres Per Day has been forfeited for Mining that could serve the entire country for a day at the official rural norms for supply. If we were to extrapolate to all the mines in the country, water forfeited to mining operations each year would be atleast a week’s national actual consumption. Read More