Diamond mining giant Alrosa has announced that it has been testing kimberlite from its mines for its potential to capture CO2 emissions. Kimberlite is an igneous rock that often contains diamonds, and as per Alrosa’s reports, it may have the ability to completely cancel out the company’s carbon footprint.
These findings are part of the first phase of the Russian diamond miner’s extensive study of carbon sequestration solutions and it’s expected to conclude in 2023.
The kimberlite testing was done together with Russian research centers on rock samples from different stages of the mining process, including extraction, processing and post-processing, and were later compared among each other.
According to Alrosa, the first test results demonstrate kimberlite’s ability to absorb quantities of CO2 that are equal to the carbon dioxide emissions of the entire Alrosa Group, and in some cases they were even several times greater.
For instance, kimberlite samples from the Udachnaya mine in the Sakha Republic, Russia, were found to absorb as much as 80 kg of CO2 per ton of processed raw material. That is four times the amount of CO2 emitted by the diamond mining industry per year.
Further research is, of course, necessary, but if it confirms the initial findings, the discovery may prove to be of great significance for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and meeting climate goals.
Transport and power are deemed to be the top sources of carbon emissions in the diamond mining industry. And although the company has made significant changes to its processes in order to achieve higher levels of sustainability, Alrosa insists that it will only be able to achieve net-zero emissions by combining these changes with carbon capture solutions.
But Alrosa isn’t the only diamond miner interested in the carbon sequestration properties of leftover materials from the mining process. The international corporation De Beers, for instance, together with the University of British Columbia is currently also investigating the potential of certain minerals to capture and permanently store CO2 emissions from the air.