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‘Red Sludge’ Wake-up Call for Investors and Financial Institutions

Hungary’s toxic ‘red sludge’ is a stark reminder of why mining companies need to better disclose their water-related risks.

On October 4th, the wall of a wastewater reservoir for the Ajka alumina processing plant broke, sending 35 million cubic feet of corrosive ‘red sludge’ downhill into nearby villages and ultimately the Danube River. This ecological disaster has claimed eight lives and devastated many more by destroying homes, livestock, and crops. Meanwhile workers are rushing to build emergency dams to stem a second flood that is expected to occur should another wastewater reservoir wall collapse.

Digging Beneath the Surface: Water Risks in Mining

For investors and financial institutions, water risks in the mining sector are difficult to track.

This summer, while Americans focused on the BP oil spill, disaster struck at a copper mine in southeastern China. The mine, owned by China’s largest gold producer, Zijin Mining Group, leaked 2.4 million gallons of waste water laced with acidic copper into the Ting River, killing 2,000 metric tons of fish – enough to feed 72,000 residents for a full year.

Just as the Deepwater Horizon disaster reminds us of the underlying risks of offshore oil drilling, the Zijin disaster demonstrates the environmental risks associated with the thousands of hardrock mineral mines in operation around the world. And, as a new paper from WRI concludes, current reporting practices mean that investors and financial institutions may not be fully aware of these risks, even though they may suffer the consequences.

Mine the Gap

Connecting Water Risks and Disclosure in the Mining Sector

This paper outlines potential water-related risks facing the mining industry and highlights important gaps in water-related disclosure.

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Water

Surveying Risk, Building Opportunity

Financial Impacts of Energy, Water and Climate Risks on Real Estate in Asia

This report presents a framework to assess risks associated with energy security, water scarcity, and climate change for the real estate sector in Southeast Asia. It also discusses financial opportunities in the region’s growing green building market.

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