By Brian Collett — De Beers, the world’s leading diamond company, has begun research that could make some of its mines carbon-neutral within five years.
The company, which is 85 per cent owned by the huge UK-based mining group Anglo American, aims to turn its mines in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Canada into carbon capture and storage centres.
It would inject carbon gases within a fluid into waste kimberlite, the porous igneous rock left behind after diamonds are extracted. An alternative to this process would be to spread the kimberlite thinly enabling it to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
The operation, known as mineral carbonation, would be a response to accusations that mining brings environmental damage, including soil erosion, sinkholes, loss of biodiversity and contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water by chemicals used in the industry.
The research has already been started at two mines, in South Africa and Canada.
De Beers has hinted that it could license the carbonation technology if it succeeds and could apply it to the abundant kimberlite it has at its nickel and platinum excavations as well as its diamond mines.