De Beers’ Carbon-Neutral Mining Plan Moves to Next Step

De Beers Group’s research into a process that could possibly lead to carbon-neutral diamond mining has just received a grant in the amount of CAD 675,000 from Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program.

Natural Resources Canada is a ministry of the Canadian government.

The project, first announced two years ago, involves injecting carbon dioxide into processed kimberlite rock in order to accelerate the naturally occurring process of mineral carbonation. During that process, the kimberlite tailings can change the carbon dioxide into a stable and benign carbonate mineral.

Kimberlite has enough storage capability that only 10% of its storage potential would need to be harnessed to capture the carbon dioxide emissions of a whole mine.

While laboratory experiments have already proved successful, the grant will support larger-scale field demonstrations at De Beers’ Gahcho Kué mine (pictured) in the Northwest Territories of Canada, according to a De Beers statement. A similar test is being undertaken at a De Beers Group mine in Botswana.

“We’ve demonstrated rapid carbon fixation within days to weeks in the lab, but the challenge is to reproduce this success at large volumes,” said Greg Dipple, project lead and professor at the Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining (BRIMM) at the University of British Columbia, one of the academics involved in the effort, in a statement.

If the project does prove successful, it might have applications not just for diamond mining, but possibly for other types of mining, said De Beers Group chief executive officer Bruce Cleaver in the same statement.

“There is great potential to achieve carbon-neutral mining operations at sites where this type of rock is present,” he said.

Also involved in the project are researchers from Trent University, University of Alberta, and Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS).

Top: An aerial shot of De Beers’ Gahcho Kué Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories (image courtesy of the De Beers Group)

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JCK News Director