Our Members recognize responsible environmental stewardship as one of the diamond industry’s main obligations. Long-term development of the industry depends on our ability to manage and minimize the environmental impact. DPA Members recognize that they have an obligation to responsibly manage the environment they are entrusted with and do so in close collaboration with local governments and communities.
of waste produced by DPA Members’ mining operations is rock. This waste material is disposed of on site and are eventually reclaimed as part of the landscape during the mine closure and rehabilitation process.
of water used by DPA Members is recycled.
of land is protected by DPA Members, equivalent in size to Yosemite National Park.
Our key focus areas
Diamond mining and diamond recovery are almost entirely reliant on mechanical processes and do not require the use of large quantities of chemicals. They do, however, require significant quantities of energy. The amount of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) emitted by DPA Members is driven by the use of fossil fuels in the generation and use of electricity (58%) and in running vehicles, equipment and other machinery (42%).
According to the Trucost report, DPA Members collectively emitted 160kg of CO2e per polished carat produced. This is equivalent to the amount of CO2e generated by driving 390 miles in an average passenger vehicle.
All Members are working actively on programs or initiatives aimed at reducing their energy use and carbon footprint and leverage wherever possible, their proximity to sources of renewable energy.
For example, the Argyle mine in Western Australia is able to source the majority of its electricity from hydro power, yielding a relatively low carbon footprint of 88 lb CO2e. Meanwhile, the Diavik mine in Canada installed a 9.2 MW wind farm in 2012. The wind farm – the most northern wind farm in the world – provides up to 10% of the mine’s energy needs and replaces about 900,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year. For this achievement, Diavik was awarded a Group Leadership Award from the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
Other DPA Members are focused on reducing the demand for energy at their sites. For example, an industrial composter was installed at Dominion Diamond’s Ekati mine to dispose of organic waste at the site. As a result, roughly half the organic waste generated at the mine, which is located in a remote area of Canada’s Northwest Territories, has been composted. From October 2015 to the end of 2016, the transition to composting is estimated to have saved about 16,278 gallons of diesel and 231 tons of CO2e. Dominion Diamond’s composter project won the Toward Sustainable Mining 2016 Environmental Excellence for Transforming Waste Management in Canada’s Northwest Territories award.
The Future is Carbon Neutral
Geologist Dr. Evelyn Mervine and her team are working on a pioneering project at De Beers Group that aims to establish a carbon-neutral mine within five to eight years. The project is focused on capturing carbon dioxide through a process called ‘mineral carbonation’, whereby certain types of mined rock can act like a sponge, taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locking it away in safe, non-toxic solid material.
Kimberlite, the rare volcanic rock that contains diamonds, has the capability to capture carbon dioxide and store it.
Dr. Mervine’s team is looking at ways to accelerate the process and make it more efficient at different mine sites. The potential for success appears high – if even 10% of a mine’s kimberlite storage potential can be harnessed, this would be enough to offset the entire mine’s emissions.
The benefits and findings will be shared with all DPA Members and could also extend beyond the diamond sector. Dr. Mervine explains: “We are working with leading academics in this field, and the insights we discover will be shared. All parts of the mining industry that have rock with carbon capture potential could use our approaches, and the project may even have broader implications for larger carbon capture projects that use mineral carbonation.”
Dr Evelyn Mervine (L) and geologist Zandile Miya examine kimberlite tailings as part of their research.
Carbon comparisonThe estimated greenhouse gas emissions of the mining of natural diamonds is
three times less
than that of laboratory-created diamond production. The environmental impact of natural diamonds is also comparable to that of many common consumer purchases such as 2.5 smartphones and 5.5 bouquets of flowers.
Embracing Nature’s Power
Perched on a sub-arctic lake in northern Canada, the Diavik Diamond Mine is only accessible by land for eight to ten weeks each winter when the ice road from Yellowknife, the nearest town (over 200 miles away), is open. “The challenges of operating a mine in a sub-Arctic environment are many and varied, dominated by extreme weather conditions and a lack of year-round road access to the site,” explains Patrick Boitumelo, President and COO.
“The way we operate reflects an empathetic relationship with the land, its people and their legacy,” according to Patrick. Powering the mine is no exception. Looking to decrease its dependency on diesel, Diavik explored renewable energy options. The best solution for the location, which lacks sufficient sunlight for solar power, was to build the first largescale wind farm. A local supplier, Yellowknife-based Det’on Cho Nahanni Construction, was awarded the contract for the wind farm’s foundation and concrete work.
Since its installation in October 2012, the 9.2 MW wind farm has exceeded expectations, offsetting 26.559 million litres of diesel fuel and reducing the mine’s CO2e emissions by almost 74,000 tons.
The wind farm at the Diavik Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories provides up to 10% of the mine’s power needs.
DPA Members have a relatively small footprint on the land due to the compact size of mining operations. Globally, Member diamond mining operations use a combined area of 325 square miles–an area about the size of New York City.
In parallel, DPA Members invest significantly in conservation efforts, protecting over 1,000 square miles of natural land in Australia, Botswana, Canada, Russia, South Africa and Tanzania. The total area of land protected by DPA Members is equivalent in size to Yosemite National Park.
DPA Members also ensure that land used is reclaimed at the end of mining operations. Closure plans are agreed upon in collaboration with local governments and neighboring communities before mining begins, and take several years to execute following the end of mining activities. This ensures that the land is safe for wildlife and people to use once mining is complete.
The total area of land protected by DPA Members is over 1,000 square miles, equivalent in size to Yosemite National Park.
protect three times
protect three times
more land than they use.
Member mining operations have a combined total area about the size of New York City.
Leaving a Lasting Legacy
Most of ALROSA’s mining operations are located in Yakutia, a remote region of the far east of Russia with a stunning landscape of forests, rivers, mountains and valleys and a harsh climate. To help preserve this unique environment, ALROSA established the Yakutia Diamonds Live natural park in partnership with the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republik of Sakha (Yakutia). The 79,073 square mile park was established in 2009 and is home to thriving populations of musk sheep, yaks, deer, Yakut horses, bears, reindeer, rabbits and peacocks. In 2016, ALROSA funded wildlife preservation programs, including a reindeer migration program and a fish biodiversity initiative.
The park has become a leading tourist destination where the public can learn about conservation and animals. It has also emerged as a community gathering place and has hosted a festival of local clans and summer camps for children.
A reindeer protection program has been implemented by ALROSA to help preserve the bio-diversity of local ecosystems. Reindeer are monitored with satellite-tracking collars and when scientists report that reindeer have entered the production area or cross the site access road, the division is brought to a standstill so as to ensure that reindeers pass freely.
Securing the Future of 200 Elephants
The Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve in South Africa was established by De Beers Group in the early 1990s and boasts magnificent Baobab trees and stunning sandstone cliffs. It has become a major tourist attraction for its wild dog population and birdwatching.
In recent years, the success of the reserve has led to an unusual problem: its elephant population has become too prolific. As a result, at the beginning of 2018, more than 270 elephants roamed the park and put its ecosystem, and the elephants’ own future, at great risk.
Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), a transfrontier conservation NGO, and De Beers Group have been instrumental in finding a new home for 200 elephants. They have begun to transport the first herds of elephants to the PPF co-managed Zinave National Park in Mozambique.
Ten times larger than the Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve, Zinave has the capacity to support large numbers of elephants but its wildlife population was critically depleted during Mozambique’s 15-year civil war. This ambitious project will return balance to the ecosystem of the Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve and help to restore the landscape and diversity of wildlife in Mozambique.
An elephant roams its homeland on De Beers Group’s Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve.
Diamond recovery does not require the use of large quantities of chemicals; processing is reliant on water and pressure. The majority of waste generated by DPA Members is waste rock, material that is removed from the mine and placed in nearby storage areas. Once mining is complete, waste rock is reclaimed and becomes part of the natural landscape again.
The remainder of waste generated by DPA Members is comprised of industrial waste (e.g., construction materials, food waste, exhausted machinery) and waste generated through emissions to air, land and water that are associated with energy use, water use, transportation, the incineration of waste and other operations on site.
DPA Members are committed to reducing all waste. On average, Members recycled approximately 26% of all industrial waste by weight, with approximately 5 kilograms per polished carat recycled in 2016.
The Compounding Benefits of Compost
Located in a remote area of Canada’s Northwest Territories, the Ekati mine was driven to develop novel strategies to manage waste. In 2015, it became the first mine in northern Canada to install an industrial composter. According to Joe Poirier, one of the Facilities and Waste Management Team Leaders, the composter reduces diesel use by 66,000 gallons and 750 tons of carbon emissions per year. “We have definitely gone above and beyond our initial expectations. Today, over half of the waste generated at the Ekati mine is composted,” he says. Joe and his team take their role as environmental stewards very seriously and have made great efforts to involve the local community. “We get a lot of support from the local elders and chiefs whenever they tour the facilities,” he says.
“They are very happy with what we have achieved here in terms of keeping the environment clean.” With approximately half of employees at the mine living permanently in the Northwest Territories, there has been a lot of support from workers. “There’s a real sense of collective achievement,” says Joe. “The success of the project depended on changing how everybody handled and separated their waste.”
DPA Members understand the importance of protecting the water supply and the quality of the water in the areas where they operate. In 2016, DPA Members used 7.3 cubic meters of water per polished carat, with most mines recycling the water they use in the processing plant (where the greatest demand for water occurs). The Members have an average water recycling rate of 83%.
Recycling and reuse initiatives are a key focus for reducing overall water consumption. Petra Diamonds achieved a 10% increase in water efficiency in 2015 by implementing recycling and reuse initiatives and a water conservation awareness program. ALROSA reduced its water consumption by 10% in 2015 alone, and by 25% over the last five years. Ninety-eight percent of the water required for Dominion’s Ekati mine is recycled. Meanwhile, in an effort to help serve the needs of the community, Petra distributes potable water to the mine village and local communities through controlled water points.
Partners in Protection
Canadian Indigenous People have been fishing the waters of Lac de Gras in the Northwest Territories for millennia. The vast tundra’s lakes and rivers are considered a precious resource by Indigenous People, essential for supporting wildlife the community relies on for sustenance. To ensure the pristine waterways are preserved, the Diavik mine involves local communities in its water monitoring program. As part of the program, the mine runs an ‘on the land’ fish and water monitoring camp, bringing together elders and youth from local Indigenous communities to share this knowledge.
Fish are caught, cleaned, inspected, cooked and tasted at a seasonal camp near the mine site. Chelsea Adjun, a local youth, said, “Knowledge like this is so important…we’re losing elders and our elders have so much to share. I wish more youth from my home got to experience this.” Chelsea will now be able to share what she has learned with her family and friends and keep the tradition alive.
The land surrounding the diamond mines in the Northwest Territories, Canada, is comprised of boulders, tundra, wetlands and over 8,000 glistening lakes. Community members monitor the water and local fish.