The rapid expansion in mining activities is deteriorating the water quality in the Chindwin River of Myanmar, and climate change may also aggravate this situation in future. Therefore, the aim of this study was to establish a connection between hydrology, mining area, heavy metal loading, and climate change in the Chindwin River. The hydrology of the upper Chindwin basin was modelled using SHETRAN hydrological model. Geochemical model PHREEQC was utilised to conduct speciation and saturation indexes modelling along the river in order to quantify the precipitated minerals along the river. Thereafter a regression relationship along with LOADEST model was used to quantify the heavy metal loads. Future climate was projected using four RCM’s namely ACCESS1, CCSM4, CNRM and MPI ESM. Future discharges at water quality monitoring stations were simulated using the averaged ensembles. Finally, the heavy metal loading under future climate scenarios were analysed.
Results indicate that climate change is likely to reduce future discharges by 3.4%–36.5% in all stations except in the Mokekalae station which shows 1.3%–9.4% increase in the near future discharges. Also, the projected metal loading under future climate conditions shows a decreasing pattern which is similar to the projected discharge pattern.
In both baseline and future climate conditions, the area between stations Naung Po Aung and Uru downstream show the highest load effluent for both arsenic and mercury while the area between stations Uru downstream and Mokekalae show the highest load of iron effluent. Although future heavy metal loadings are expected to decrease, mining activities should be carefully monitored, since they discharge a large amount of toxic heavy metal loadings into the Chindwin River which is also expected to suffer a decrease streamflow in future.