Climate change poses a potential range of threats and opportunities for mining regions around Australia. Recent studies have suggested that mine operations as well as the related infrastructure, businesses and communities associated with mining, may be affected by flooding, drought, bushfires, storms, and sea level rise.
This case study sought to identify the implications of climate change for the Goldfields-Esperance regional mining value chain. The study found that likely impacts of climate change on the mining industry may include:
- Restraints on potable water supply from south-west Western Australia due to the winter drying effect but greater local opportunities for fresh water capture in summer
- Improved stability of electricity supply in winter but greater instability in summer associated with the shifting seasonal incidence of storms.
- Generall detrimental changes to the natural ecology of the region from drier winters, hotter and wetter summers, and consequent bushfires
- Changes to the liveability of the region with milder winters but hotter and wetter summers
The most common spill over impacts that were identified were the effect of damage or disruption to upstream components of the supply chain, such as water, energy and transport, on mining productivity and viability. These impacts then affected other components of the chain, notable human resources, the environment, and community liveability. It was also apparent that impacts on sectors lower down the supply chain, such as ports, can have ramifications for upstream sectors. Spill-over effects between sectors at the same level of the supply chain, notably between water and energy supply, cascaded on to affect other sectors such as the community.