De Beers plans to clean up diamond supply chain, be carbon neutral by 2030

(Removes reference to toxic levels in 6th paragraph and rewords first to remove reference to investor pressure on De Beers)

FILE PHOTO: A truck drives amongst workings at the De Beers Voorspoed Diamond mine near Kroonstad, South Africa May 3, 2017. REUTERS/James Oatway

(Reuters) - Diamond mining giant De Beers on Monday outlined plans to be carbon neutral by 2030 and add to safeguards on the ethical sourcing of its diamonds, as companies across the sector make efforts to raise environmental and ethical standards.

The initiative is the latest example of a miner setting sustainability goals in an industry blamed for depletion of natural resources, smuggling and child labor in supply lines.

De Beers, a unit of Anglo American, said it would provide the origin and impact of every diamond it discovers and sells, while also extending a set of ethical, social and environmental standards beyond its value chain and across diamond mining as well as other sectors.

De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer by the value of its gems, has led industry efforts to verify the authenticity of diamonds and ensure they are not from conflict zones where gems may be used to finance violence.

The company has tracked high-value diamonds from miner to retailer using blockchain to clear the supply chain of imposters and conflict minerals.

The diamond producer, which in the past has been accused of failing to report levels of mercury at one of its mines in Canada, said on Monday it would look to halve its water footprint and achieve a net positive impact on biodiversity by 2030.

De Beers, through its CarbonVault initiative, has been trying to capture carbon from the atmosphere and lock it away in kimberlite, the rock in which diamonds are found.

The ethical practices are among the company’s 12 sustainability goals being adopted for the coming decade, which also includes achieving gender parity across its workforce.

Advocacy group Human Rights Watch had warned here this month that major jewellery brands are still not doing enough to combat human rights and environmental abuses in their gold and diamond supply chains.

Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar and Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel