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The Diamond Industry’s Carbon Footprint: Steps in the Right Direction

Diamond industry stakeholders are no strangers to the scrutiny the industry is under for its environmental impact and the carbon footprint it can leave behind. 

The demand for a sustainable, responsible approach has been steadily growing, and the industry has been taking active measures to meet these demands. Notable diamond manufacturers have made serious strides in the right direction, and there have been many recent advancements in addressing the carbon footprint of the diamond industry.

In a recent article, we explored the diamond industry and its sustainability initiatives in great detail. Now, we’re diving into the diamond industry and carbon footprint topic by outlining its scope and discussing the various strategies, technologies, and regulations being implemented to reduce its environmental impact—let’s get into it.

Current State: The Diamond Industry’s Carbon Footprint in 2023

The environmental impact of diamond mining and diamond manufacturing is an often-talked-about issue when it comes to issues like climate change. Sourced from the Earth, rough diamonds require a sizable amount of energy and resources to be mined, processed, and manufactured into the polished diamonds and jewelry we know today. 

From large-scale underground mining to diamond cutting, polishing, setting, and transportation (all of which require considerable energy expenditure), the entire process leaves a significant carbon footprint.

The average carbon footprint of a diamond is 108.5 kilos of CO2, according to a 2021 Imperial College London (ICL) report cited by BBVA. Put into perspective, that’s about as much produced by 12.2 gallons of gasoline consumed by a car or 122 pounds of coal burned. 

It’s a significant number on its own. Still, when you consider that the global industry mines over 100 million carats of product annually, it explains why so many diamond manufacturers are eager to step up to the plate and be pioneers in offsetting their carbon footprint. 

Diamond Industry Initiatives to Offset Its Carbon Footprint

Next, we’ll outline some of the significant steps global diamond companies take in the right direction: a more sustainable one!

Sustainable Mining

One of the prominent ways the diamond industry has been mitigating its carbon footprint is through sustainable mining practices. While sourcing diamonds responsibly, the focus has been on ensuring the environment is least affected. Practices include reduced land disruption and innovative methods to reduce water wastage.

For instance, De Beers has been using solar power plants since 2019 in its mines to reduce reliance on traditional fossil fuels. Several other diamond companies have been investing in renewable energy sources, including wind and hydropower. Another example is Rio Tinto, a Mining Association of Canada (MAC) member. Since 2012, they have used a pioneering wind farm at their award-winning Diavik Diamond Mine.  

A 2021 article from the Mining Association of Canada explains: “This $31 million project is Rio Tinto’s first wind generation facility and also holds the distinction of being the first large-scale wind farm in Canada’s Northwest Territories. It uses leading edge cold climate technology to overcome the problem of industrial lubricants freezing in sub-Arctic conditions. 

As a renewable energy source, the wind farm is exceeding targets and providing around 10% of the mine’s power needs. In addition to its role in producing much needed power, the wind farm also reduces Diavik’s seasonal winter road fuel haul by approximately 100 loads.”

Emphasis on Natural Diamonds

While there’s a rising interest in lab-grown diamonds as an eco-friendly alternative, it’s important to note they aren’t necessarily a greener option. The energy consumption in producing lab diamonds is significant. In truth, natural diamonds, when mined responsibly, can offer a more eco-friendly alternative

Addressing Climate Change

Given the pressing issue of climate change, the diamond industry has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint and adapt to the changing climate. 

While much of the sustainability focus is on reducing the carbon footprint of mining diamonds themselves, there are also exciting developments in what those diamonds can do upon being mined.  

As this 2016 article explains: “Researchers are building a diamond-based device that can remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and transform it into valuable chemicals, including fuel.” Many in the diamond industry are eager for updates on the progress of this device, what it could mean for how diamonds are used, and its implications for a healthier world.

Collaborations and Certifications

Collaborative efforts like the Kimberley Process have become more prevalent, underscoring the industry’s commitment to ethical practices. Many diamond companies, including us at the Choron Group, have also adopted the ISO 26000:2010 standard, ensuring socially responsible behavior.

Carbon Emissions Monitoring: Harnessing the Power of Technology

While the carbon footprint of a diamond can vary, efforts have been made to closely monitor and limit the emissions. With the integration of advanced technology and conscious operational decisions, carbon emissions during diamond manufacturing have been significantly reduced. 

On the technology front, startups are developing exciting new tools that could revolutionize how sustainability standards are policed. 

CarbonVero is one such solution, developed by Andre Messika and industry solutions provider Sarine Technologies to establish greater transparency in the rough diamonds market. The data tool meticulously records everything from origin to mining energy consumption to labor practices, providing buyers with unprecedented clarity into the provenance of their diamonds.

Does Sustainable Mining Have a Bright Future?

The world has been and remains hyper-focused on climate and sustainability initiatives well into the twenty-first century. First-of-their-kind agreements and treaties have made way for more promises while prompting global investments in green technology by industry leaders across the board. 

If there’s one thing that can be deduced from it all, it’s that the future is still uncertain. Keeping up with developments today is paramount to a better tomorrow for all businesses.

From rough to polished diamonds, Choron aims to make the global industry more transparent. Count on us for reliable and up-to-date diamond industry news on initiatives designed to quell the environmental impact of diamond mining, new investments in sustainability, corporate responsibility, climate change projects, and more. 

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