Demonstrating responsible stewardship
Mining is a temporary activity. However, at Gem Diamonds, we take a long-term view of the land under our management, recognising that adverse impacts must be remediated to demonstrate responsible stewardship of natural resources.
Planning for mine closure is, therefore, an essential part of mining responsibly and, in most cases, is required by law. We pursue best practice in mine closure planning, going far beyond what is required of us by host country legislation as we believe that this forms part of our responsibility to our host countries and the communities that live in proximity to our mines.
Remediation of our Letšeng mine poses a unique challenge, however, in that it is the highest diamond mine in the world with an altitude of ±3 200 meters above sea level. Revegetation of this area can be challenging due to the remoteness of the mine and its extreme environment.
To achieve our rehabilitation aims, various initiatives have been undertaken. Nursery and rehabilitation trials, concurrent rehabilitation projects, as well as academic studies from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and the North-West University (NWU) in South Africa have been conducted at Letšeng to inform rehabilitation and present mining strategies. The trials have revealed valuable information, including:
the most viable growth mediums for the different waste disposal sites;
the products/techniques required to enhance the quality of growth mediums to sustain vegetation;
the most feasible revegetation techniques to promote the success and persistence of native grasses, forbs and shrubs; and
preferred seed mixtures, application rates and seeding techniques.
The results of some of these trials were presented at SER 19 – the 8th World Congress on Ecological Restoration – held in Cape Town in September 2019 in order to share good practice and receive international critique.