The increased international focus on sustainable development and cost improvement, coupled with the unpredictability and adverse impact of droughts in Australia and globally, has highlighted the critical need for responsible management of water within the minerals industry. The Rio Tinto Technology Group recently initiated a priority program to examine how water management practices could be improved within the Group’s spheres of activity. Rio Tinto Technical Services (TS), the technical services consulting group of the Technology Group, has for many years been undertaking water management reviews and assisting group operations with the development of responsible water management strategies and plans. Rio Tinto therefore requested that Rio Tinto Technical Services develop a world-class approach to mine water management that will drive improvement in strategic assurance and operational efficiency of water at the company’s managed operations across the world. The initiative, known as ‘Excellence in Water Management’, includes the selection and use of state-of-the-art management, technical tools and methodologies to strive for best practice. The Rio Tinto Technical Services approach facilitates a consistent and objective assessment of performance across the entire spectrum of complex water management issues within a mining operation, from initial exploration through to decommissioning and close-out of the operation. Based on this rigorous assessment, detailed action plans can be developed, prioritised and scheduled for subsequent implementation. This paper presents the progress and experience gained to date in the ‘Excellence in Water Management’ program, demonstrated by means of a pilot study conducted at Northparkes Mines in New South Wales.