De Beers Group’s carbon-capture research at the Gahcho Kué mine in Canada has received a funding boost following the award of a C$675,000 (£409,272) grant from Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program towards pioneering research in partnership 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 Group has been working with leading academics from The University of British Columbia, 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. With laboratory experiments having already proved successful, the grant will support larger-scale field demonstrations at the Gahcho Kué Mine in the Northwest Territories.
De Beers Group is focused on maximising the benefits that can be generated for the wider mining community and is partnering with the academic community on the research so the research insights are retained by the academic partners
Greg Dipple, project lead and professor at the Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining (BRIMM) at UBC, says: “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 Group chief executive officer, Bruce Cleaver, adds: “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.”
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% of the rock’s storage potential would need to be harnessed to capture the carbon dioxide emissions of a whole mine.