Concerns about the difficulties in securing water have led the Australian coal mining industry to seek innovative ways to improve its water management and to adopt novel strategies that will lead to less water being used and more water being reused. Simulation tools are essential to assess current water management performance and to predict the efficiency of potential strategies. As water systems on coal mines are complex and consist of various inter-connected elements, a systems approach was selected, which views mine site water management as a system that obtains water from various sources (surface, groundwater), provides sufficient water of suitable quality to the mining tasks (coal beneficiation, dust suppression, underground operations) and maintains environmental performance. In this paper, the model is described and its calibration is illustrated. The results of applying the model for the comparison of the water balances of 7 coal mines in the northern Bowen Basin (Queensland, Australia) are presented. The model is used to assess the impact of applying specific water management strategies. Results show that a simple systems model is an appropriate tool for assessing site performance, for providing guidance to improve performance through strategic planning, and for guiding adoption of site objectives.