The environmental impact and sustainability of irrigation with coal-mine water was investigated from an agricultural point of view on different coal-mines in the Republic of South Africa. Field trials were carried out on a commercial and plot scale, on sites that could offer a range of soil, crop, weather conditions and water qualities such as gypsiferous, sodium sulphate and sodium bicarbonate waters. Crop production under irrigation with gypsiferous mine water is feasible on a field scale and sustainable if properly managed. No symptoms of foliar injury due to centre pivot sprinkler irrigation with gypsiferous water were observed. The presence of high Ca and Mg in the water suppressed plant uptake of K. This could be corrected by regular application of K containing fertilizers. The bigger problem experienced was waterlogging due to poor site selection, especially during the summer months. The problem is not related to the chemistry of the gypsiferous water used for irrigation. Pasture production with Na2SO4 rich mine effluent was also feasible, at least in the short term, but would need a well-drained profile and large leaching fraction to prevent salt build up. Forage quality was not affected by the Na2SO4 water used. NaHCO3 water was of very poor quality for irrigation and is not recommended for irrigation. Salt tolerant crops that are not susceptible to leaf scorching can be produced with this water, but only with very high leaching fractions and careful crop management. Regular gypsum application will be required to prevent structural collapse of the soil. Most of the salts applied will leach from the soil profile, and will probably need to be intercepted for treatment or reuse. The Soil Water Balance (SWB) model was validated successfully. The model predicted crop growth, soil water deficit to field capacity and soil chemistry reasonably well, with simulated results quite close to measured values. Soluble salts have to be leached from the soil profile, so that crop production can be sustainable, but will externalize the problem to the receiving water environment. To assess the environmental impact of irrigation with coal-mine water, it is valuable to develop a tool that can assist with prediction of offsite effects. SWB was validated for runoff quantity and quality estimations, and was found to give reasonable estimates of runoff quantity and quality. SWB also predicted the soil water and salt balance reasonably well. This gives one confidence in the ability of the model to simulate the soil water and salt balance for long-term scenarios and link the output of SWB to ground and surface water models to predict the wider impact of large scale irrigation. This will also link the findings of this work to other research oriented towards the management of mine water and salt balances on a catchment scale. It will also help authorities make informed decisions about the desirability and consequences of permitting mine water irrigation on a large scale. Irrigation with gypsiferous mine water can be part of finding the solution to surplus mine water problems. Appropriate irrigation management of mine water is essential for the long-term sustainability of irrigation.