De Beers Group just got a little help from the Canadian government in its quest to come up with a way to make diamond mining carbon neutral.
The diamond miner and marketer announced Tuesday the 23th of July the award of a C$675,000 grant (about $514,000) from the Clean Growth Program of Natural Resources Canada for its carbon-capture research at the Gahcho Kué Mine in the Northwest Territories.
The project is part of a global three-year study that includes mines in Botswana and Venetia in South Africa to allow for comparisons between different climates and geology.
What De Beers and leading academics from four institutions—The University of British Columbia, Trent University, University of Alberta and INRS in Quebec—have been working on is called rapid carbon fixation. It involves injecting carbon dioxide into processed kimberlite rock in order to accelerate a natural process, mineral carbonation.
In mineral carbonation, processed mine rock (the material left after the diamond is extracted from the source rock) sequesters the carbon dioxide as a stable and benign carbonate mineral.
The process takes thousands or millions of years in nature, but about 10 years ago scientists became aware that certain rock types exposed at Earth’s surface could store carbon and started studying how they could make it happen more quickly, said De Beers Canada spokesman Tom Ormsby.