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Welcome to FutureSmart MiningTM

Building on 100 years of technology and innovation leadership, we have set out a new approach to innovation.

FutureSmart Mining™ applies cutting-edge technological advances and broad innovative thinking to address mining’s major challenges. Through collaborative partnerships, we are connecting people to find safer, more efficient and more sustainable ways to mine the precious metals and minerals that our customers need.

The future is FutureSmart Mining™. Discover our stories below.

An introduction to FutureSmart Mining<sup>TM</sup>

An introduction to FutureSmart MiningTM

In a world of change, the future belongs to those who can redefine it.

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In a world of change, the future belongs to those who can redefine it.

Carbon neutral mining research at De Beers

Carbon neutral mining research at De Beers

A five year project

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A five year project

Storing carbon in Kimberlite tailings

The De Beers Group is leading a ground-breaking research project that aims to deliver carbon-neutral mining at some of the company’s operations in as few as five years.

The company’s scientists are working in close collaboration with a team of internationally-renowned scientists to investigate the potential to store large volumes of carbon at its diamond mines through the mineralisation of kimberlite ‘tailings’, the material that remains after diamonds have been removed from the ore.

It is the first time such extensive research has been undertaken to assess the carbonation potential of kimberlite, a rare type of rock that has been found to offer ideal properties for storing carbon through mineral carbonation technologies.

The project aims to accelerate what is already a naturally occurring and safe process of extracting carbon from the atmosphere and storing it at a speed that could offset man-made carbon emissions. Scientists estimate that the carbon storage potential of kimberlite tailings produced by a diamond mine every year could offset up to 10 times the emissions of a typical mine.

Huge potential

De Beers Group’s Project Lead for the initiative, Dr Evelyn Mervine, said: “This project offers huge potential to completely offset the carbon emissions of De Beers’ diamond mining operations.

“Mineral carbonation technologies are not new, but what is new is the application of these technologies to kimberlite ore, which is found in abundance in the tailings at diamond sites, and which offers ideal properties for the storage of very large volumes of carbon.

“As part of the project, we are looking at how these existing technologies can be modified to develop specific solutions suitable for storing carbon in kimberlite tailings.

“The research is in its early stages and it may take some time before it is economically or practically achievable to tap into this full storage potential. However, even just tapping into a small amount could greatly reduce the net emissions at many of our mine sites in the near future, and possibly lead to carbon-neutral mining at some sites within the next five to ten years.

“As technology improves over time, more and more carbon could feasibly be stored in kimberlite tailings, meaning we could ultimately offset more emissions than we are producing.”

Significant applications for the mining industry

Mineral carbonation is a natural or artificial process whereby rocks at the Earth’s surface react with carbon dioxide sourced from the atmosphere and lock it away in safe, non-toxic, solid carbonate materials – taking that form in kimberlite rock in this instance.

The work being undertaken by the project team could have significant applications for the broader mining industry, as the ideal carbon storage characteristics of kimberlite rock are also found in rocks mined for other commodities, such as nickel and platinum.

De Beers Group CEO, Bruce Cleaver, said: “By replicating this technology at other mining operations around the world, this project could play a major role in changing the way not only the diamond industry, but also the broader mining industry, addresses the challenge of reducing its carbon footprint.

“By investing in ground-breaking projects such as this, aligned with the FutureSmart Mining™ innovation programme of our parent company, Anglo American, we have the real potential to leave a positive, long-lasting legacy for the global mining industry.”

De Beers started the project in 2016. A key part of its early work was centred on supporting academic-focused mineral carbonation studies of old (pre-1912) and recent (post-2008) kimberlite tailings samples from Voorspoed Mine in South Africa, which provide a great ‘natural laboratory’ for understanding carbonation reactions in kimberlite.

Mineral carbonation potential assessment studies are currently underway for Venetia Mine in South Africa and Gahcho Kué Mine in Canada. Further research and detailed studies will continue in 2017 and 2018 to assess the carbonation potential at these and other De Beers Group mines.

Steering clear of trouble

Steering clear of trouble

Automation and detection advancements

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Automation and detection advancements

As part of our FutureSmart Mining™ strategy, we invest in technology to keep our people safe and to build efficient processes.

Evolving drilling and cutting systems

The technical demands of underground hard rock mining operations are higher than for open cut, which is why we are collaborating with key mining machinery and technology manufacturers (OEMs) to transform how we mine underground using advanced drilling and cutting systems.

We have created the Rapid Mine Development System (RMDS) together with Atlas Copco, designed to quickly, cost efficiently and safely develop low-profile tunnels in hard rock.

The RMDS excavates a rectangular-shaped tunnel, important for roof stability purposes in platinum mines, for example, as well as providing the flat floor needed by mine vehicles. As well as removing people from areas of most danger underground, the RMDS causes less damage to the overhead walls, thereby reducing the risk of collapse and enables greater ore excavation time as there is no time lost for explosive blasting.

We are currently testing the RMDS at our Twickenham platinum mine in South Africa.

OBJECT DETECTION AND AUTO-BRAKING TECHNOLOGY

We have fitted trucks at our Sishen iron ore mine in South Africa with tracking radars for object detection, in-cab operator display, collision detection alarms, and auto-braking technology.

The auto-braking technology in particular significantly improves accident prevention. It helps operators avoid collisions by indicating when danger is imminent and automatically adjusts the truck’s speed, applying the brakes if an operator fails to do so when there is an obstacle.

It also limits movement of the haul truck when an object is detected and reduces the majority of incidents that occur by reducing speed in areas that are geo-fenced with a speed limit.

Evolution of evaporation measurement

Evolution of evaporation measurement

Reliable evaporation calculations can lead to significant savings

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Reliable evaporation calculations can lead to significant savings

The volume of water that evaporates from a mine void once the mine has reached the end of its life dictates the extent of rehabilitation that must be undertaken.

That’s why, in Australia, the Technical Development team – part of our Technical and Sustainability function – has engaged the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Land and Water to develop better methods for measuring and predicting evaporation from mining voids.

The trial at Drayton mine uses a floating evaporation pan and a weather buoy to provide high quality data used by the CSIRO team to automatically calculate evaporation on a daily basis.

Sharing learnings

Claire Cote, Environmental Specialist said that the trial has not been without its challenges.

“The wind and wave action has been a challenge causing the water in the pan to spill out,” she said.

“The Drayton team is working closely with the CSIRO team to adapt the design to better meet the windy conditions at Drayton.”

Despite the challenges, initial analysis shows that this study will deliver much more accurate values for the daily volume of water that evaporates from the pit than has previously been obtained through traditional methods.

“The intention is to share the learnings from the Drayton trial with other Business Units across the Anglo American group, starting with Platinum in Q1 2017,” Claire said.

Harnessing the power of sound

Harnessing the power of sound

Using sound waves to detect water depth in Brazil

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Using sound waves to detect water depth in Brazil

To monitor the main reservoirs of the dams at our Minas-Rio iron ore operations in the states of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, we use a device called an ‘echo-bathometer’.

The echo-bathometer – one of only two in Brazil – works by emitting sound waves that reach the bottom of the reservoir, which are then measured and recorded in real time with GPS.

Eliminating risk

To reach its desired location in the reservoir, it is transported via a remote-controlled boat. The consequent results tell us the depth of the lake and volume of material deposited there.

This innovative technology eliminates the human risk associated with more traditional methods of water-depth measurement.

Building platinum partnerships

Building platinum partnerships

Fuel cell technology is at the heart of our Platinum business’ innovation activity

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Fuel cell technology is at the heart of our Platinum business’ innovation activity

We recognise the importance of working with talented partners to support our business objectives and – in particular – our sustainability goals. This approach to partnership is at the heart of Anglo American Platinum’s FutureSmart Mining™ efforts.

One of the companies we partner with is Greyrock, a leader in small scale gas-to-liquids technology.

These catalysts – which use platinum from our mines – help to generate enough power to run a vehicle but without the noise or harmful CO2 and other noxious emissions of a normal combustion engine.

Launch of the Hydrogen Council

We are committed to supporting the development of the hydrogen and fuel cell sectors through partnerships. And that’s why we are members of the Hydrogen Council, launched at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting – Davos 2017.

Fuel cells by Ballard

The Hydrogen Council is a global initiative consisting of thirteen leading energy, transport and industrial companies working towards a long-term ambition for hydrogen to take a lead in the world’s energy transition strategy.

Water recycling in Chile

Water recycling in Chile

Los Bronces upgrades water transportation system

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Los Bronces upgrades water transportation system

Mining relies on the use of water, but with many mines situated in areas where water supplies are scarce, we are always looking for ways to reduce – and where possible eliminate – our use of fresh water, meaning there is more for everyone else.

Supporting water conservation

At our Los Bronces copper mine in Chile, high in the Andes mountains, we reassessed our water conservation approach when faced with water supply limitations.

As the mine is located in a historically water-short area, close to the highly populated city of Santiago, the challenge was to try and recycle as much as possible so we weren’t dependent on large volumes of fresh water.

After months of planning, we upgraded the water transportation system – which moves water along a 56-kilometre pipeline from the Las Tortolas tailings dam – using an integrated automated circuit for recirculation.

As a result, Los Bronces is now recycling more than 78% of the water it uses – a huge increase from the 25% it was recycling just five years ago. And in 2016, 66% of the water we used across Anglo American was recycled or re-used.

Our next goal is to increase this to 80%.

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