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De Beers says progress made on its four sustainability pillars

24th May 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Diamond mining multinational De Beers achieved advances across all four core sustainability pillars and all 12 goals, which included reductions in water use and energy intensity, innovations in diamond tracing technology, increased representation of women in senior leadership and progress toward its climate commitments during 2022.

The company's four sustainability pillars, which are part of its 2030 Building Forever strategy, include leading ethical practices, protecting the natural world, partnering for thriving communities and accelerating equal opportunity.

A notable milestone for the company during the year was setting emission reduction targets across Scopes 1, 2 and 3, which have been validated by private sector climate action organisation the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

De Beers’ near-term SBTi-validated targets are to reduce absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions 42% by 2030 and to reduce absolute Scope 3 emissions by 25% over the same timeframe.

In setting the targets across all three scopes, De Beers is extending its climate ambition over and above its existing commitment to be carbon-neutral across Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, the company said.

"The SBTi-validated targets represent the reductions required by the organisation to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. However, under its existing carbon-neutral commitment and with the implementation of its reduce and replace strategy, De Beers expects to exceed its SBTi-validated targets for reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030," the company said.

Further, De Beers accelerated the pace of innovation and investment in its blockchain provenance platform Tracr. The platform was deployed at scale in 2022 and enables participants to provide assurance of a diamond’s source as it travels through the value chain. More than half of De Beers’ global production by value is now being registered on Tracr.

“Building Forever is about taking a long-term view. We work hand-in-hand with the communities in which we live and work to shape a better future. Our actions range from addressing the climate crisis to growing prosperity wherever we operate. And, by using our proprietary technologies, we can now connect our customers to the origin, impact and stories of their diamonds. Building Forever will continue to guide every decision De Beers makes and touch every diamond we discover,” said De Beers group CEO Al Cook.

Under its ethical practices pillar, De Beers increased the number of mine sites participating in GemFair, which is its programme to support the formalisation of the artisanal mining sector, to 263 from 219 in 2021. The programme also provided fair and equitable finance to support the operations of 49 members.

“De Beers is committed to advancing industry standards, enhancing the transparency of diamond provenance and improving the livelihoods of artisanal miners,” Cook said.

Further, De Beers understands that, for its business and host communities to thrive, it must protect the natural world. In all of its activities, the company follows best practices for biodiversity and water management, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and mine closure and rehabilitation.

In line with this sustainability pillar, the company achieved a 14% reduction in freshwater withdrawals and a 4% reduction in energy intensity compared with 2021. Additionally, in partnership with diversified mining major and parent company Anglo American and sustainable energy company EDF Renewables, De Beers started development of more than 70 MW of renewable energy projects in Southern Africa.

The company has also invested $2-million in Namibian coastal underwater kelp growing startup Kelp Blue. Kelp can absorb carbon dioxide up to 50 times faster than land-based forests. In addition to supporting De Beers’ carbon neutral commitment, Kelp Blue will also create jobs and support sustainable economic development in Namibia, the company said.

Further, De Beers has continued with its Okavango Eternal programme, which is a partnership with science and exploration organisation National Geographic to protect the critically important headwaters of the Okavango Delta.

“Progress in the Okavango Eternal programme included installing innovative water monitoring technology, deepening research and understanding, and engaging with communities on soil-friendly farming methods,” the company highlighted.

Meanwhile, De Beers is also focused on working with a range of stakeholders to help build a sustainable future and contribute to a better quality of life in its host communities, with particular emphasis on health and wellbeing, education and skills development, economic diversification and livelihood support.

Under this pillar, De Beers supported 420 students in securing 12-month internships in different sectors through a partnership with International Youth Foundation. De Beers also supported more than 3 340 jobs through various socioeconomic development projects and initiatives during 2022 and 71% of its goods and services were procured from local suppliers.

Further, 18 Southern Africa-based companies completed the Stanford Seed Transformation entrepreneurship programme, which De Beers supports in partnership with Stanford University, the company said.

Additionally, in collaboration with Right to Care, the company rolled out a community-oriented primary care partnership to strengthen medical clinics in Southern Africa that prioritise areas that lacked medical provision.

Under its equal opportunity sustainability pillar, De Beers is focused on accelerating economic inclusion and supporting diverse voices to help shape the future of its business, host communities and society at large, with a particular focus on addressing the historical underrepresentation of women in its talent pipeline and encouraging fresh and diverse talent into the diamond jewellery sector.

At the end of 2022, women comprised 33% of senior management positions within the De Beers Group, up from 31% in 2021. The company also extended its partnership with civil society organisation WomEng, which is committed to helping women and girls pursue careers in engineering and technology, for another three years.

Additionally, since 2018, De Beers has provided 89 scholarships to women studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at universities in Canada, has reached more than 3 700 school students in Southern Africa through STEM workshops, and has supported more than 2 400 women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, the company said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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