Many developing countries are experiencing rapid expansion in mining with associated water impacts. In most cases mining expansion is outpacing the building of national capacity to ensure that sustainable water management practices are implemented. Since 2011, Australia's International Mining for Development Centre (IM4DC) has funded capacity building in such countries including a program of water projects. Five projects in particular (principally covering experiences from Peru, Colombia, Ghana, Zambia, Indonesia, Philippines and Mongolia) have provided insight into water capacity building priorities and opportunities. This paper reviews the challenges faced by water stakeholders, and proposes the associated capacity needs. The paper uses the evidence derived from the IM4DC projects to develop a set of specific capacity-building recommendations. Recommendations include: the incorporation of mine water management in engineering and environmental undergraduate courses; secondments of staff to suitable partner organisations; training to allow site staff to effectively monitor water including community impacts; leadership training to support a water stewardship culture; training of officials to support implementation of catchment management approaches; and the empowerment of communities to recognise and negotiate solutions to mine-related risks. New initiatives to fund the transfer of multi-disciplinary knowledge from nations with well-developed water management practices are called for.