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Water treatment in perpetuity – or not?


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Author R J Higgins and M Edraki


What is the meaning of the Life of a Mine (LOM) if that mine results in a requirement for water treatment in perpetuity? ‘In perpetuity’ is of course a duration with no relationship to a Life-of-Mine or what might rightly be regarded by external stakeholders as a fair and reasonable post-mine recovery period. It exceeds the life span of investors, mine managers and governments, indeed even of capital markets as we know them, and of corporate and individual memories.

In mine and mine closure planning, decisions are usually based at least to a significant extent on traditional economic analysis underlain by discounted cash flows (DCF). For investments in income-producing facilities, such as mining development and equipment, and ore-processing plant and equipment, this analysis reflects commercial reality and allows for comparison of competing investments. However, for environmental and social infrastructure, the same analysis using the same input parameters, especially the discount rate applied to cash flows, can lead to a bias against the adoption of best practices for non-investor stakeholders.


Higgins, R J and Edraki, M, 2018. Water treatment in perpetuity – or not?, in Proceedings Life-of-Mine 2018, pp 131–132 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).