De Beers is looking to make some of its mines carbon-neutral within half a decade by storing carbon dioxide inside kimberlite rocks.
The rough producer is investigating ways to accelerate the naturally occurring process by which kimberlite reacts with carbon to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it said last week.
This reaction, known as natural mineral carbonation, occurs faster in kimberlite than it does in most rocks. However, the natural process is still too slow to offset man-made carbon emissions to any significant degree. De Beers is trying to speed up the carbonation using technology so it can succeed in balancing out its mines’ carbon emissions.
Studies are currently under way at the Venetia mine in South Africa and the Gahcho Kué mine in Canada to determine their potential for the project. The company will carry out further research to see if it can do the same thing at its other mines.
“Mineral carbonation technologies are not new, but what is new is the application of these technologies to kimberlite ore,” said Dr. Evelyn Mervine, who is leading the project at De Beers.
“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,” she continued. “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.”
De Beers’ announcement was part of its “Report to Society,” in which it said it had increased investment in local goods and services in South Africa by 27% to $454.7 million (ZAR 6.1 billion) in 2016.
The company paid $5 billion in taxes, dividends and payments to stakeholders globally last year, a 26% rise aided by improved financial and operating performance, the report added.