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  • Responsible Raw Materials

Nadja Kunz - Progressing water security in mining regions

Updated: May 31, 2020

Water is an essential input for mining and minerals processing, but the industry’s use of water can pose detrimental impacts to natural ecosystems and the communities that rely on them. While the mining sector’s interactions with water have long been recognized as important, water-related risks are growing in magnitude, complexity and significance.

This presentation profiles research projects being led by Dr. Kunz and her graduate team at The University of British Columbia. The overarching goal of their work is revolutionize the use and management of water in mines to reduce risks and maximize opportunities from the perspective of diverse stakeholders including business, investors, government and communities. Themes covered include tailings risk, climate risk, analysis of non-technical risks, and an evaluation of the trade-offs associated with water balance optimization (e.g. the water-energy nexus).

Nadja’s research strategy is inherently interdisciplinary, bridging the fields of mining engineering, hydrology, social science, operations research and community engagement. The international diversity of her team promotes cross-country comparison, allowing consolidation of common challenges and the development of solutions tailored to key mining regions globally.


Nadja Kunz is an Assistant Professor and NESRC Canada Research Chair in Mine Water Management and Stewardship, jointly appointed across the UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, and the Norman B Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering. Nadja received her PhD from The University of Queensland in Australia, and previously worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Eawag Aquatic Research Institute in Switzerland. Nadja’s current research focuses on how to conceptualize, measure, model, and communicate water-related risks for diverse stakeholders including companies, investors, indigenous rights-holders, local communities and governments. Her research is interdisciplinary, bridging the fields of mining engineering, hydrology, social science and operations research. Current study regions include Canada, Chile, Peru, Mongolia and Ethiopia.

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