De Beers water use increases by almost 6% due to 'technical issues' at mines

Diamond company De Beers has announced that it used 42.9 million cubic metres (m3) of water in 2012, a 5.8% increase on 2011.

Diamond sorting in DTC Botswana. De Beers' water and energy use increased in 2012

Diamond sorting in DTC Botswana. De Beers' water and energy use increased in 2012

According to the company, the increase was mainly due to a rise in the volume of material treated and some technical issues related to water recovery at some of its mines.

Released yesterday, the company's 2012 sustainability report states that contributing to this increase was the "minimal" water recycling at both the company's Botswana Morupule Coal Mine and at its synthetic diamond supermaterials company Element Six, which have been reported on for the first time.

In addition to the company's increase in water consumption, it also reported an increase in direct and indirect energy consumption, which amounted to 12.7 million gigajoules (GJ) in 2012, a 9.6% increase on 2011.

The overall increase in energy use is mainly attributed to increased waste stripping, greater haulage distances and an increase in tonnes of ore treated.

As a result, this has intensified total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, which increased to 1.58 million tonnes in 2012, an 8.9% increase from 2011.

Two-thirds of these emissions come from the electricity the company purchases, with indirect emissions amounting to 0.93 million tonnes in 2012 compared to 0.85 million tonnes in 2011.

Direct emissions from fuel use, mainly diesel, amounted to 0.65 million tonnes compared to 0.60 million tonnes in 2011.

According to the company, De Beers does not set group-wide targets but instead all of its operations have targets for energy and water specific to the type of mining operation, such as marine, alluvial or open pit.

Last week, analysis from the Carbon Disclosure Project, Metals & Mining: a sector under water pressure revealed that for the majority of metals and mining firms, there are very real concerns that water shortages could strike at the heart of their production systems.

The paper distilled findings from 36 companies, including De Beers parent company Anglo American, that were happy to disclose water data.

Out of the 36 firms, all bar one identified substantive water-related risks that could reduce profits going forward.

Leigh Stringer


mining | Water footprinting | water reuse | Water reduction strategy


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