DPA members are aware of the fact that they mine diamonds in some of the most remote and pristine environments in the world and that their operations can impact the living habitat of local communities and can have consequences on the whole eco-system.
This is why they share a genuine passion for preserving the environment they have custody of, and why many young environmentalists chose the mining profession to live their passion. It is every DPA member’s objective to minimise its operations’ environmental footprint from design stage all the way to closure, along the following key dimensions.
|Preserve natural resources||The usage of local resources such as water and electricity is managed so as to give priority to local community needs and minimise usage intensity. Renewable energy is used where possible.|
|Minimise carbon footprint||Like any industry that generates jobs and benefit to an economy, diamond mining has a carbon footprint. While it compares favourably with other extractive industries as the amount of ore moved is low, and transporting diamonds requires little energy DPA members still actively seek to reduce their footprint.|
|Protect the environment||Every DPA member to protect the environment throughout the life cycle its operations and then return the mine site after mine closure in the same pristine condition as it was found, leaving no long term negative environmental legacy. This is how, for example, it is possible for Rio Tinto, De Beers, and Dominion Diamond Corporation to mine diamonds in the Canadian North West Territories and Ontario, home to some of the strictest environmental rules in the world.|
|Preserve biodiversity||A clear biodiversity plan is developed and followed by each member to ensure that the fauna and flora remain unaffected by the mine. At mine sites, wild life has the right of way.|
Victor Mine in Ontario, Canada
Dominion Diamond and Diavik Mines jointly won the Towards Sustainable Mining Environmental Excellence Award in 2015 for the Regional Grizzly Bear DNA program in NWT. Traditional knowledge was sought from community elders and land users for the design and placement of posts which were used to gather samples of DNA analysis. 1902 hair samples were collected in 2012 and 112 grizzly bears identified. This rose to 4709 samples and 136 bears in 2013, 39 of which had not previously been detected.
Preserve natural resources / minimise carbon footprint
All DPA members implement water management strategies to improve water use efficiency and eliminate potential contamination of water. Water use efficiency is of particular importance in water-stressed areas such as Southern Africa and Australia.
- ALROSA reduced its water consumption by 10% in 2015, and over the last five years it is down 25%. In order to preserve water resources, the company optimizes production processes and actively implements the re-use of water (which now accounts for more than 90% of total consumption).
- Petra decreased its water consumption by 4% in FY2015 equivalent to a 10% increase in water efficiency (ie water consumer per tonne of ore treated. This was achieved by increasing awareness about water conservation and by implementing recycling/re-use initiatives.
- De Beers undertook a full water efficiency and security review at Venetia Mine in South Africa in 2015 and are now investigating a range of options to save water including evaporation covers on on-mine storage dams, the reuse of water in processing plants and management of storm water. Water stewardship at all of De Beers’ mines requires all operations to avoid the unnecessary use of new fresh water, replacing it wherever possible with poorer quality alternatives and recycling. At Orapa Mine the use of waste water from the local salt and soda ash productions is being investigated while at Jwaneng there is an aim to treat and use domestic waste water from the local town for processing. Namdeb’s coastal mining operations use seawater where possible.
- 98% of the water used at Dominion’s Ekati mine is recycled from the Long Lake containment facility. The quality of the water is carefully monitored before it is released back into the environment.
- Petra’s Williamson mine in Tanzania has the only water treatment plant in the district. It distributes potable water to the mine village and local communities through controlled water points. The water is sampled in accordance with the requirements of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards.
Diamond mining is less energy intensive than other types of mining, particularly as it does not require a chemical process to release diamonds from the ore. Nonetheless energy management is of vital importance particularly in Africa where there are regular power outages. DPA members all have energy strategies and targets in place.
- Rio Tinto’s two major mines provide the company with massively different weather challenges. The Argyle mine in Western Australia can hit 40°C while temperatures in Canada’s Diavik mine in the Northwest region plunge to as low as -40°C with permafrost gripping the diamonds even tighter. At Diavik, the freezing winds are put to good use with the world’s most northerly wind farm. The four 9.2 megawatt wind turbines can power half the site’s energy needs on a windy day. The hydroelectricity plant at Australia’s Argyle mine, reduces its dependency on diesel power.
- ALROSA has reduced energy consumption by 4% in 2015. The company is implementing a special programme to improve energy efficiency, which includes the introduction of energy efficient equipment and switching vehicles to gas fuel.
- Petra’s initiatives to reduce energy have included the use of accurate real time energy monitoring, continuous roll-out of high efficiency motors, replacement of all incandescent and fluorescent lights with LED bulbs, the installation of heat pumps and solar heating systems at the change houses and improved load management systems.
- De Beers recently conducted a study into the potential for using solar energy at Venetia Mine in South Africa.
In tandem with the energy stewardship programmes DPA members seek to minimise their carbon footprint.
- ALROSA has joined with other Russian companies joined in the “Russian partnership for climate protection” initiative which has the goal of uniting the efforts of Russian businesses to reduce the impact on the environment and prevent climate change.
- Ekati mine’s composting unit reduces site diesel consumption by an estimated 250,000 litres every year and prevents up to 680 tonnes of GHG emissions.
- De Beers has set up a multidisciplinary team of experts to investigate the possibilities of using a mineral carbonation process to sequester carbon dioxide in kimberlite.
Bongani Ntloko, Environmental Officer at Gem Diamond’s Letšeng Diamond Mine.“My passion for working with nature has guided my career for over 20 years. I joined the Letšeng team in June 2013 to implement and coordinate land management and rehabilitation activities such as trials, wetland engineering, veld management, and biodiversity management, among others. Prior to joining the committed Gem team, I had a variety of practical and technical training and experience, both
locally and abroad. In addition to this experience, with the support and assistance of Gem Diamonds, I earned
my Diploma in Agriculture as well as my honours degree in environmental sciences, majoring in biodiversity and
conservation ecology. Where others see difficulty in working with plants in such a rugged, highaltitude
environment, I am inspired. I consider it a privilege to be able to apply my knowledge and passion on
a daily basis.”
Protect the Environment
All DPA members seek to comply with relevant national environmental legislation, to align with international good practice and to meet ISO 14001 internationals standard for environmental management. This is done by developing and implementing appropriate environmental policies and systems, fostering awareness, ensuring appropriate training and through building a culture of shared responsibility.
Major environment and biodiversity studies precede any decision to build a mine and stringent conditions have to be met before environmental permits are delivered by local authorities, in consultation with indigenous communities.
Throughout the life cycle of the mine every operation is the subject of constant monitoring and evaluation by local inspectors as well as local community members. Any incident which could have negative environmental impact is immediately reported and remediation implemented according to the local environmental agencies. Waste, effluents, emissions and dust are carefully managed and monitored to prevent pollution. Diamond Recovery does not require the use of chemicals.
All DPA members work on closure plans throughout the life of the mine. These plans are developed with the aim of establishing the foundations for sustainable post-mining communities and economics while protecting and stewarding the environment. After a mine is closed pits can often be flooded and turned into reservoirs. Diavik mine in the North West Territories of Canada, which began producing diamonds in 2003, will disappear back under a lake by about 2025.
- In Russia, ALROSA spent US$100m on environmental projects in 2015. ALROSA’s environmental projects span protection of air quality and climate change, sewage collection, waste management, water protection, protection against noise and vibration and the conservation of biodiversity. They’re serious about it, spending up to 2% of global revenues annually which increases to 3% when operational spend related to the environment is included. The company invested in the creation of a protected area, a natural park they called “Living diamonds of Yakutia”. Its aim is to preserve and breed animals native to the north and secondly to allow the Mirny population (especially children) to learn more about wildlife in their natural habitat. Today, the park is home to reindeer, bison, musk, ox, moose and bears. Over the last 5 years ALROSA has recultivated 8,400 hectares of land previously disturbed by mining.
- Lucara was elected by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) to receive its 2016 Environmental and Social Responsibility Award. This award honours an individual or organization demonstrating outstanding initiative, leadership and accomplishment in protecting and preserving the natural environment and/or in establishing good community relations during an exploration program or operation of a mine.
- Waste from Ekati mine is carefully managed to keep materials that might attract or harm wildlife out of landfills. Proper disposal of waste is an ongoing challenge that staff takes seriously. Inspections are regularly performed on waste bins and the landfill to ensure that waste is being disposed of correctly. Regular employee education sessions are conducted to stress the dangers posed to wildlife and mine personnel from improperly disposed waste.
- Long-term reclamation plans are in place, to prepare for the eventual closure of the Ekati mine. The idea is to “clean up as we go,” which is referred to as progressive reclamation. Dominion Diamond are doing this through projects such as contouring country rock piles to create safe access routes for caribou, creating new fish habitats, and conducting re-vegetation studies.
Petra seeks to optimise the recycling of waste generated at all its operations and strives to prevent wastage as part of the international waste hierarchy shown above. During FY2015 Petra recycled 6,294t of waste.
Izak Hartzer and Lukas Moruping, from the local community near the Koffiefontein mine have set up a business recycling old wood from the mine manufacturing it into high quality, unique wooden furniture.
A clear biodiversity plan is developed and followed by each member to ensure that the fauna and flora remain unaffected by the mine, that there is no net loss of biodiversity and that the mine makes a contribution to biodiversity conservation in the region. At mine sites, wild life has the right of way.
- Dominion posts speed limits, communicates road closures site-wide, educates staff about wildlife safety and ensures that wildlife is always given the right-of-way. Inokhoks, or inukshuks (traditional rock structures), are also used to deter wildlife from approaching high traffic areas. The safety of caribou herds is ensured through visual monitoring, temporary road closures, site-wide notifications,and wildlife signage.
- Operations at the Diavik mine are also organised to ensure its grizzly bear and Caribou population retain the right of way across centuries old paths across the tundra.
- De Beers has set aside 170,785 hectares for conservation. This is equivalent to 1707 square km – more than the combined size of New York City, Boston and Washington DC).
- Petra has established ecological reserves adjacent to its mines in Southern Africa totalling over 67,000 hectares and 906 hectares in Tanzania.
Reindeer are the most important animals in Yakutia and ALROSA helps to keep their population. The company is taking into account the reindeer’s migration routes while building a new open-pit at Verkhne Muna. The roads will have special flat slopes and be equipped with light reflectors to let animals cross them conveniently and safely. During the period of active migration, vehicle traffic will be completely prohibited.
Zebra in the protected nature reserve at Petra’s Cullinan mine
Caribous take precedence over mine traffic