The Anglo American’s diamond company De Beers is embarking on an innovative energy storage project which aims to deliver carbon-neutral mining within five years.
The project is utilising the storage potential of a by-product of diamond mining, known as kimberlite, a rare type of rock that remains after diamonds are removed from the ore. Kimberlite tailings offer ideal properties for storing carbon and have the potential to offset up to 10 times the emissions of a typical mine.
“This project offers huge potential to completely offset the carbon emissions of De Beers’ diamond mining operations,” says the De Beers Group.
Indeed the project could have significant applications for the wider mining sector, and De Beers will be working with international scientists to investigate the storage potential of kimberlite. Even just tapping into a small amount of the potential of kimberlite could greatly reduce the net emissions at many of mine sites in the near future, and possibly lead to carbon-neutral mining at some sites within the next five to ten years, the company says.
Energy storage assessment studies are currently underway at the Venetia Mine in South Africa and Gahcho Kué Mine in Canada, with further research to continue through to 2018.
The ideal carbon storage characteristics of kimberlite rock are also found in rocks mined for other commodities, such as nickel and platinum and the company hopes that 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.
“By investing in ground-breaking projects such as this, aligned with the FutureSmart Mining™ innovation programme of our parent company, Anglo American, we have the real potential to leave a positive, long-lasting legacy for the global mining industry.”