1 year ago

Opportunity Issue 100

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors and looks to provide its readers with first-hand knowledge about South African business. Opportunity also looks to present South African business to international markets that may have interests in investing in South Africa. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).


DE BEERS GROUP AIMS FOR CARBON NEUTRALITY De Beers Group's commitments to Building Forever are part of its blueprint for creating a positive and sustainable impact that will endure beyond the discovery of its last diamond. Kirsten Hund, Head of Carbon Neutrality, explains the commitment to be carbon neutral at all De Beers' operations by 2030 through the “Reduce, Replace, Recover” Strategy. What do the three pillars of your strategy represent: reduce, replace and recover? These three pillars are fundamental to our carbon neutral by 2030 strategy. The first one, “Reduce”, is about increasing energy efficiency. What can we do to operate in the most efficient, innovative and sustainable way possible so that we use a limited amount of energy and really bring down our emissions? “Replace” is the biggest chunk of our work. It is about replacing fossil-based energy and fossil-based fuels with renewable alternatives. Our mines in Southern Africa are all connected to the grid and the grid power comes mostly from coal. Concretely, our objective is therefore to firstly replace fossil fuels with green alternative fuels like green hydrogen, to power our trucks and vessels, and electrify where we can. Secondly, in partnership with Anglo American, we are creating renewable energy sources and replacing nearly all fossilfuelled electricity by developing dedicated wind and solar power plants. Southern Africa has massive potential for solar and wind power, so we are working to leverage that. The last Pillar, Recover or remove, is about how we can remove those remaining, hard-to-abate carbon emissions that we cannot get rid of by 2030 from the atmosphere by investing in and developing nature-based climate solutions. One of the advantages of a mining company is that we control so much land. By developing naturebased solutions around for example regenerative agriculture, we can enhance the capacity of that land to sequester carbon, while also improving biodiversity and creating sustainable jobs. Why are you choosing carbon-neutral solutions rather than simply buying carbon credits? We have committed to be carbon neutral by 2030. Our primary focus, and responsibility as a global citizen, is to bring our own carbon footprint down. It’s about increasing efficiency and replacing fossil-based energy and fossil fuels. That is really the key focus. Between now and 2030, because of the state of technology and where we are, there are going to be some remaining emissions that we are going to need offset because we cannot completely get rid of them. Our objective is to do what we can to address that in-house, and develop our own carbon removal projects; nature-based climate solutions like soil and mineral carbonation, regenerative agriculture and/ or reforestation? We are exploring different options of what can we do within the countries and the landscapes where we operate. So instead of, for example, conserving forests in Costa Rica we try to have an additional positive impact where we are mining. The aim is to take an integrated approach, so that, through the offset projects that we develop, we also strengthen our other Building Forever Pillars: we create jobs, we help create local economic development and we contribute to strengthening biodiversity, leaving a lasting positive legacy. Being part of Anglo American helps you in terms of scale. How are you leveraging this? We are working very closely with Anglo American on developing renewable energy solutions for our mines. While renewable energy resources are plentiful in Southern Africa, there is limited infrastructure to harness it. As a result, Anglo American is developing a regional renewable energy ecosystem. This plan, currently a work in progress, provides an integrated approach to building out renewables across countries in which we operate in Southern Africa, also supporting the development of green hydrogen, and overall being a catalyser for green economic growth where it is most needed. The plan draws on the huge natural renewable potential of Southern Africa and involves the construction of on-site photovoltaics at several of our operations and off-site wind farms. The ultimate goal is a regional renewable energy ecosystem which will not only meet the full demand of Anglo American’s operations in the region, but will also support the resilience of the local electricity supply systems by providing additional 28 |

CARBON NEUTRALITY De Beers is installing solar panels on the roofs of its office buildings around the world. generated capacity and contribute to the wider decarbonisation of the energy supplies in Southern Africa. Will green hydrogen play a role in your operations? Yes, it will. We plan to collaborate closely with Anglo American to generate hydrogen from electrolysis on our mine sites, using renewable energy sources. At Anglo American’s Mogalakwena PGMs mine in South Africa, the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mine haul truck is expected to be piloted in 2022. For this, Anglo is building a 3.5MW electrolyser to produce hydrogen on site for use in fuelling the hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric haul truck. We subsequently expect to roll out this technology across Anglo’s other operations around the world, including the De Beers open-pit mines, in the years to come. For technical and safety reasons, in underground mining the solution will be much more in looking to electrification of the vehicles and trucks used. What steps are you taking in terms of your joint venture partners and the businesses further down the value chain? We have committed to be fully carbon neutral by 2020 (for our Scope 1 and 2 emissions), both upstream and downstream, so from mine to jewellery store. Our joint venture partners in Botswana and Namibia have also committed to be carbon neutral by 2030. So we work very closely with them and our carbon neutral strategy of reduce, replace, recover, has also been adopted by them. Each mine needs its own strategy because the situation is different in every case, with respect to the land, the opportunities and the regulatory framework but we work as a team. Are renewable projects happening already? Yes, we have a number of different projects in the pipeline. These do not happen overnight, as the infrastructure needs to be developed from scratch. For example, in partnership with Anglo, we are doing the preparatory work for a 60MW solar plant at Venetia Diamond Mine in Limpopo. We have done the scoping report and we are in the process of developing the environmental impact assessments. At Oranjemund at the Namdeb operations in Namibia, there is very high potential for wind energy. We are currently looking at assessing how much and where and how to structure it. We haven’t put a shovel in the ground yet because we need to do all the preparatory work first. We have a lot of smaller rooftop solar projects. We have already commissioned two solar PV plants in Surat in India, one at Maidenhead near London in the UK and one at the De Beers Marine premises at Paarden Eiland in South Africa, as well as at our Diamond Trading Offices in Botswana. Those are small scale, but you have to start with small things. Is that what is meant by the “modular approach” towards achieving your goal of carbon neutrality? To an extent yes. It also means we need to get going and start with the lower-hanging fruit first, to show that it can be done. We know solar energy works, we know wind energy works, we know it’s cheaper than grid-based power so let’s get going with that. Other carbon-reduction possibilities are developing as we speak. A much broader use of green hydrogen or the issue of cheap, large-scale energy storage – we are looking at all of those sorts of solutions but technology development is really moving fast so we’re also following it as we go. 2030 is around the corner. We can’t wait until we have the perfect plan; we need to start reducing our carbon emissions now and remain flexible and keep innovating as we go. Miners like to plan well in advance and have a very structured engineering approach, which is good, but this very ambitious target requires a bit of risk-taking; we need to be brave. Who are you working with? We cannot do this alone. Very close collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders is essential, starting with our partner governments and communities. But in addition, we also work with a range of research institutes and civil society organisations, such as Fauna and Flora International. With FFI, for example, we work on identifying potential for nature-based climate solutions in South Africa and Namibia. In addition, we are also exploring options for collaboration on green innovation with the universities in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa on topics like fuel replacement. We want to do more work with research institutes, knowledge institutes and organisations in the Southern African region because this is such a new and growing area of work. It’s really important that the skills and the knowledge are being developed locally, as it also offers such massive opportunities to contribute to a truly just and sustainable energy transition. Carbon Neutrality. Biography Kirsten Hund, a Dutch national, has been Head of Carbon Neutrality with De Beers since October 2020. Her responsibility is to work with the different parts of the company to get De Beers to carbon neutrality across its operations by 2030. Kirsten joined from the World Bank, where she was a Senior Mining Specialist in the Energy and Extractives Global Practice. Before that, she worked in several roles for development and conservation NGOs, including WWF and Action Aid in the Netherlands and Africa on all aspects of sustainable and climate-smart mining development. She is currently based in The Hague but is planning to move to Johannesburg. She holds an MA in International Relations and International Humanitarian Assistance. Kirsten Hund, De Beers Head of

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