In five years, De Beers hopes to have carbon-neutral mining at some of its operations. This project, which was started last year, will develop ways to store large volumes of carbon through the mineralization of kimberlite tailings.
According to De Beers, this is the first project that will evaluate the carbon-storing abilities of kimberlite. The mining company estimates that this venture could offset up to 10 times the emissions of a typical mine.
“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,” says Dr. Evelyn Mervine, De Beers Group’s project lead for the initiative. “However, even just tapping into a small amount could greatly reduce the net emissions at many of our mine sites in the near future, and possibly lead to carbon-neutral mining at some sites within the next five to 10 years.”
During the process of mineral carbonation, carbonate materials—such as kimberlite—react with atmospheric carbon dioxide, locking it away in a safe, non-toxic manner. De Beers says this could have significant applications for the mining industry as a whole, as carbon storage characteristics are also found nickel and platinum.
“By replicating this technology at other mining operations around the world, this project could play a major role in changing the way not only the diamond industry, but also the broader mining industry, addresses the challenge of reducing its carbon footprint,” says Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers Group.