De Beers said that its carbon-capture research at the Gahcho Kué diamond mine in Canada has received a funding boost following the award of a C$675,000 (US$514,000) grant from Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program for a project focused on delivering carbon-neutral diamond mining. The project in Canada is part of a De Beers Group global research program that includes studies, not only in Canada, but also in Botswana, to allow comparisons between different climates and geology.
De Beers said it has been working with leading academics from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Trent University, University of Alberta and Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) on researching the potential to store large volumes of carbon in processed kimberlite through mineral carbonation.
The project involves injecting carbon dioxide into processed kimberlite rock in order to accelerate the naturally occurring process of mineral carbonation, whereby processed mine rock (material left after the recovery of diamond from source rock, kimberlite) sequesters the carbon dioxide as a stable and benign carbonate mineral.
The research offers great opportunity as the carbon storage capabilities of kimberlite processed while mining is such that only 10 per cent of the rock’s storage potential would need to be harnessed to capture the carbon dioxide emissions of a whole mine.
With laboratory experiments having already proved successful, the grant will support larger-scale field demonstrations at the Gahcho Kué Mine in the Northwest Territories.
Greg Dipple, project lead and professor at the Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining (BRIMM) at UBC, said, “We’ve demonstrated rapid carbon fixation within days to weeks in the lab, but the challenge is to reproduce this success at large volumes. This generous funding from Natural Resources Canada and De Beers Group will allow us to test these technologies at a larger scale at active mine sites.”
De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver said, “We are immensely proud of this collaborative piece of work between industry and academia, and with excellent progress in the project to date there is great potential to achieve carbon-neutral mining operations at sites where this type of rock is present. This award will help us accelerate this innovative work that could fundamentally change the carbon footprint of not only the diamond industry, but the mining sector more broadly.”