French water and environmental services giant Veolia Environnement SA is looking to increase its share of sales to the mining industry, aiming to reach a total sales value of $2.1 billion by 2020. The utility has decided to focus its efforts on the global mining industry, as it is strongly dependent on water and many mines are being opened in areas where water is already scarce, according to the company's chief executive officer Antoine Frerot.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference held last week, Frerot commented that the market for water and wastewater treatment services in the mining industry is expected to grow, as more and more countries are imposing stricter environmental rules. This requires mine operators to engage in activities that promote water conservation and water treatment, eventually leading to higher revenues for water companies, including Veolia. But apart from water treatment, Veolia could also help mining companies recover minerals from wastewater, Frerot pointed out.

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The water company is shifting its focus onto providing services to more industrial clients, Frerot explained. The mining industry is the second-largest water consuming industry, after agriculture, but it is just one of the areas where Veolia will be expanding, as the company aims to generate about half of its revenue from industrial clients over the next few years, up from the current third. This shift is prompted by continuously shrinking margins in Veolia's traditional business, municipal water services, Frerot said.