De Beers targets carbon-neutral mining in 5 years

The company aims to develop technology that can speed up mineral carbonization in kimberlite ores, which is key in making mining operations less carbon-intensive.

May 12, 2017

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The company aims to develop technology that can speed up mineral carbonization in kimberlite ores, which is key in making mining operations less carbon-intensive.

Image source: ColiN00B, Pixabay

Diamond company De Beers is the latest industry giant to jump in the "green" bandwagon with announcement of a research project that will allow carbon-neutral operations in some of its mining sites in Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa in the next five to 10 years.

The company said it is currently studying ways to store large amounts of carbon dioxide in kimberlite through mineralization. Kimberlite is a relatively rare igneous rock and an indicator that diamonds are already present. It is also what remains after diamonds have been removed from the ore after mining.

De Beers' research findings revealed that mineral carbonation occurs faster in kimberlite than it does in other rock types. The process, however, is too slow to offset the large amount carbon dioxide emitted during mining. Because of this, De Beers is trying to develop a technology that will speed up the process – an industry first.

"Mineral carbonation technologies are not new, but what is new is the application of these technologies to kimberlite ore," said project leader Dr. Evelyn Mervine in an interview with Bloomberg. "The research is in its early stages, and it may take some time before it is economically or practically achievable to tap into this full storage potential."

The announcement was part of De Beers "Report to Society" initiative, which also mentioned increased investment of the company in local goods and services in its base country South Africa by 27 percent to $454.7 million last year.

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