Modeling the impact of revegetation on regional water quality: a collective approach to manage the cumulative impacts of mining in the Bowen Basin, Australia

In this paper we quantify the additional water quality benefits that can be achieved through collective cumulative impact management. To do this we simulate coordinated and un-coordinated revegetation investments and compare their impact on achieving regional water quality goals. Our results show that coordination between multiple mining companies achieves additional benefits since prioritization is enabled across a broader range of investment opportunities. Additionally, when coordinated investment was permitted beyond the boundaries of coal mining leases, results show that additional benefits are greatly enhanced since these regions provide more rewarding investment opportunities. Results illustrate a) how regional coordination may influence reputational benefits of investments, and b) that coordination is beneficial when investment opportunities are unevenly distributed across the landscape. When additional benefits are achievable, we suggest that mining companies should develop collective investment projects with an understanding of how coordination influences project costs. Similarly, investment projects should be developed with an understanding of investment tradeoffs and how these may adversely impact on regional stakeholders and hence industry reputation. The mining industry has significant potential to contribute to regional wellbeing. However, to do so, land management policies must be flexible and promote incentives for investment beyond compliance.

Read the full paper: Sonter, Moran & Barrett (2013), “Modeling the impact of revegetation on regional water quality: a collective approach to manage the cumulative impacts of mining in the Bowen Basin, Australia”, Resources Policy, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 670-677. DOI: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2013.02.007