ENVIRONMENT

Funding boost for carbon-neutral diamond mining research

Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program has awarded De Beers Group with a C$675,000 (US$514,000) grant for its carbon-capture project at the Gahcho Kué diamond mine in Canada

Staff reporter
 De Beers is undertaking carbon-capture research at the Gahcho Kué mine

De Beers is undertaking carbon-capture research at the Gahcho Kué mine

The project is part of a De Beers Group global research programme that includes studies, not only in Canada, but also in Botswana to allow comparisons between different climates and geology.

De Beers 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 said it 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, 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."

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.

According to De Beers, 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.

The Clean Growth Program, run by the governmental department responsible for Canada's natural resources, is a C$155 million investment in clean technology research and development (R&D) and demonstration projects in three Canadian sectors: energy, mining and forestry.

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