Our pillars


We embed our commitment to responsible environmental stewardship, by assessing, mitigating and managing our impact on the natural environment to ensure that a meaningful legacy is left for future generations.

Related sustainability principles

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Optimising socio-economic benefit

Related UN SDGs

The following UN SDGs relate to our environmental pillar:


Refer to our Annual Report and Accounts 2023 for more information on how environmental considerations and associated UN SDGs translate into our business operations.

Snapshot of our performance

  • Zero major or significant environmental incidents for the 15th and 10th consecutive year, respectively
  • Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM) dam safety management framework implemented
  • US$2.3 million invested in environmental protection and bioremediation infrastructure during 2023 (2022: US$0.8  million)
  • US$14.2 million
    environmental rehabilitation provision (2022: US$15.4 million)
  • No fines for environmental transgressions or non-compliance with host country legislation for the 14th consecutive year
  • Decarbonisation and carbon-pricing
    strategies and targets integrated into Group strategy
  • 4.5 million m3
    of water recycled (2022: 6.4 million m3)
  • Total carbon footprint reduced to
    110 198 tCO2e
    (2022: 112 827 tCO2e)
  • Won the Water award at the Investing in African Mining Indaba 2023 (Junior ESG Awards)

Our goals

  • Reducing our carbon footprint through improved energy consumption efficiencies and optimised mining activities.
  • Identifying opportunities for alternative energy and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Advancing projects aimed at conserving water.
  • Embed concurrent rehabilitation practices to protect the natural environment for future generations.

Our future

  • Continue to monitor and manage our climate-related exposure and measure our performance against our decarbonisation targets in line with our decarbonisation objectives.
  • Monitor the success of our bioremediation strategy.
  • Reduce fuel consumption.
  • Limit carbon emissions and energy-related costs.
  • Maintain stringent management of our water and RSFs.

Material Matters

Our context

Gem Diamonds is committed to responsible, safe and sustainable mining. In support of this commitment, the Board adopted the TCFD framework in June 2021, with a three-year TCFD adoption roadmap which was completed at the end of 2023. Understanding climate-related risks and potential impacts is key to assessing our organisational exposure and resilience to climate change. In addition, this knowledge guides us when we update business continuity plans and operational strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change-related risks.

Our TCFD adoption roadmap

Phase 1 (2021)
Build the foundations to support meaningful science-based decision-making
Phase 2 (2022)
Understand the risks we face and reflect on our organisational resilience
Phase 3 (2023)
Establish clear metrics and targets for monitoring and managing our exposure

In early 2023, the Group committed to a 30% reduction of its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, using 2021 as a baseline. This commitment followed the Board’s adoption of the Gem Diamonds Group decarbonisation strategy, which sets out our ambitions to reduce energy consumption, improve our energy-use efficiency and transition to appropriate renewable energy sources. This strategy is underpinned by our carbon-pricing model.

We take a science-based approach to identifying potential exposure events associated with our climate-related risks and materiality, enabling us to better plan for their management, mitigation and financial impact.

Over the past three years, alongside our TCFD and decarbonisation planning, we focused on better understanding the extent to which we might be vulnerable to future climate impacts (physical and transition risks) and identifying appropriate mitigation strategies.

Refer to our Annual Report and Accounts 2023 for more information on how climate change has been embedded in our governance, risk management and strategy processes.

Climate-related risks and opportunities

Our resilience to physical climate-related risks is robust, and we continue to improve our understanding of the potential physical risks under various future scenarios. Our ability to withstand the physical impacts of climate change should be understood in the context of our operations – located in remote and extreme natural environments – and the mitigation strategies we have established to deal with the extreme conditions (such as such as snowstorms, extreme temperatures, excessive rainfall and/or flash floods and drought) that prevail in these environments. We continue to closely monitor and model the potential impact of transition risks such as future regulatory requirements, carbon tax and global fossil fuel based energy trends, to ensure that these risks are taken into consideration in our short, medium and long term planning and strategy.

Our approach

Following the adoption of the TCFD recommendations, the Group adopted a bottom-up approach to identify climate-related and decarbonisation risks and opportunities and consider potential implementation pathways for resource-use efficiency and carbon-reduction initiatives. Our decarbonisation strategy, adopted in 2023, sets out our ambitions to reduce energy consumption, improve our energy-use efficiency and transition to appropriate renewable energy sources. We monitor and assess our progress in realising our decarbonisation objective against established metrics and targets.

Our stakeholders expect us to continue to prioritise matters relating to sustainability, including energy usage and decarbonisation. This approach has been evident in our work on sustainability for many years, and has become integral to the way we do business.

The Board, Executive Management and our workforce support and are aligned to our commitment to reducing carbon emissions through the effective implementation of our decarbonisation strategy, and on the importance of deriving maximum value from our energy efficiencies. The Group climate and decarbonisation strategies work towards the following objectives:

  • securing sufficient energy for the future requirements of the Letšeng operation;
  • ensuring efficient energy consumption, supported by appropriate and efficient on-site energy management systems;
  • driving the identification and implementation of decarbonisation projects; and
  • driving the transition to appropriate and viable lower-carbon and renewable energy sourcing.

Our carbon price

Gem Diamonds’ adoption of an internal carbon-pricing model further supports our decarbonisation strategy. We use internal carbon pricing as a risk management and assessment tool, and to explore cost savings and revenue opportunities through innovation.

Gem Diamonds understands its exposure to the risks of climate change, and although we are not currently subject to any direct carbon taxes (there is indirect exposure through our Eskom tariffs and diesel levies), we understand the risk of potential direct carbon taxes being imposed in the jurisdictions in which we operate. In order to ensure business continuity, effective capital allocation decisions and to support a just transition to decarbonisation, it is responsible to plan as effectively as possible, taking into account potential climate-related risks and costs. Adopting an internal carbon price allows us to effectively estimate the impact of climate-related risks and opportunities on our financial position and performance, and the business case and trade-off implications for future projects, such as a transition to renewable power to meet demand for future energy requirements.

Our carbon-pricing model (shadow price) considers our climate change scenario-planning work, and assigns prices based on current and potential future global responses (including carbon tax, technology development and deployment, coal powered energy divestiture, fossil fuel pricing increases and location specific regulation) associated with various changes in global temperatures. Following a carbon pricing workshop, with senior Group management and members of the TCFD Adoption Steering Committee, the internal carbon model, assumptions and price was presented to the Board for adoption. The Board approved the recommended Group carbon pricing model and carbon price, which adopted an evolutionary approach to shadow pricing for pre-2030 and post-2030 business planning and future project considerations. As the regulatory environment changes around carbon tax and associated energy pricing, the Group will revisit the assumptions within its carbon pricing model to ensure appropriate internal pricing.

Our decarbonisation levers

Currently, the Group targets both Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions as part of our decarbonisation strategy and our ‘30% reduction by 2030’ target.

Letšeng draws its power from the South African power grid supplied through the national power utility, Eskom. A 2021 study by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air found Eskom to be the world’s most polluting company due to its 15 coal-fired power stations, which produce 80% of the country’s power. Eskom-supplied grid electricity is currently the only grid power that Letšeng has access to and accounts for all our Scope 2 emissions. As of 2023, no renewable or alternative electricity sources are directly available to Letšeng to replace the existing grid-supplied electricity.

Mobile (mining fleet and equipment) and stationary (diesel-powered generators) combustion activities account for 98% of our Scope 1 emissions from the diesel consumed through these activities.

The Gem Diamonds decarbonisation strategy focuses primarily on Letšeng, which accounts for 98% of the Group’s carbon footprint. Our strategy targets two key levers for reduced carbon emissions within both Scope 1 and 2:

  • to reduce our energy use and associated carbon emissions by improving the efficiency of our processes and equipment; and
  • to replace our dependence on fossil fuel-based energy sources with lower carbon and renewable energy sources.

Extreme natural events

Both our mines are located in extreme environments, and we have been managing and responding to extreme natural events since 2006. Our operational business continuity plans, disaster management plans, and all other operational procedures and systems are informed by the weather experienced at these locations.

The Letšeng operation maintains a two-week supply of food and diesel in case extreme weather disrupts access and/or energy supply. In addition, our medical teams are equipped with extensive training in high altitude rescues and emergency treatment under extreme conditions.

Dams and storage facilities are managed so that there is excess capacity to handle a sudden influx of water without compromising safety, and our teams respond swiftly to assist communities during periods of extreme weather, such as flood, drought or high snowfall.

The increased frequency of localised flooding and prolonged drought illustrates the potential impacts of climate change. Our water management strategy prioritises water saving, recycling and catchment-efficiency initiatives to preserve water and ensure it is treated as a precious resource.

Our performance

The Group completed the implementation of its three-year TCFD adoption roadmap in 2023. The successful completion of the roadmap resulted in the adoption of a carbon pricing model and decarbonisation strategy with appropriate carbon reduction targets.

In 2023, we recorded a 26% decrease in our Scope 1 and 2 emissions when compared to our baseline 2021 carbon emissions footprint.

Our context

We strive to minimise our environmental impacts and minimise the consumption of natural resources by working within our value chain to identify and implement initiatives that will reduce our costs and minimise environmental impacts.


We acknowledge the threat posed by climate change and are committed to effectively reduce our carbon footprint. In support of this commitment, the Board adopted the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework in June 2021, and outlined a three-year TCFD adoption roadmap. We successfully completed all three phases of the roadmap in 2023, and the Board ratified our commitment to a 30% reduction of our Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, using 2021 as a baseline.

Our Letšeng operation relies primarily on fossil fuel energy sources. Alternative energy sources are being continuously assessed, however the extreme and unique natural environment constrains the options available to the operation to transition to lower carbon energy options. In 2023 our Ghaghoo operation, currently on care and maintenance, transitioned from fossil-fuel electricity to solar energy.

Refer to here for details of our decarbonisation strategy and progress made against our targets.


Our operations rely on a continuous supply of water and the effective stewardship of surrounding water resources. Letšeng’s mine operations occur on the watershed between the Khubelu and Matsoku drainages, 3 275 metres above sea level. To ensure clean water flows into these dams and to our PACs, we prioritise water management throughout our value chain.

After a severe four-year drought which ended in 2021, Letšeng experienced two years of elevated precipitation resulting in the mine’s freshwater Mothusi Dam briefly reaching 100% capacity in early 2023. We recorded 97% capacity at the end of 2023, meaning that Mothusi has enough fresh water to sustain the mine’s operations for eight years, even without further precipitation.

Patterns of extended droughts interrupted by short but extensive precipitation events align with the weather patterns predicted by our climate-change models. It is in this context that our water management plans and efforts take place.


The responsible management of both mineral and non-mineral waste plays a significant role in the sustainability of our business and the long-term protection of our environment and surrounding PACs. Our waste management strategy ensures the responsible management and disposal of mineral and non-mineral waste generated by our operations.

Our approach

The Group has adopted detailed sustainability, environmental, climate change and water management policies that clearly sets out our adherence to best practice in managing our environmental footprints and associated impacts (refer to our website at www.gemdiamonds.com). These policies consider the needs of all stakeholders, and ensures that our operational requirements and those of our PACs are met. The Group has implemented a bi‑annual framework to measure and model our environmental footprints. Regularly assessing our resource consumption trends enables us to respond timeously and implement initiatives that will mitigate against increases in environmental impacts and improve resource-use efficiencies.


The Gem Diamonds decarbonisation strategy focuses primarily on Letšeng, which represents 98% of the Group’s carbon footprint. Our objective is to reduce carbon emissions within both Scope 1 and 2 by:

  • improving the energy-consumption efficiency of our processes and equipment; and
  • replacing our dependence on fossil fuel-based energy sources with lower-carbon and renewable energy sources. .

Reducing the overall demand for energy means that implementing renewable energy sources and offsetting residual emissions becomes as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

We have integrated energy efficiencies, alternative energy sources and decarbonisation into our overall business strategy, and prioritised these as critical workstreams. In 2023, we implemented the following initiatives to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions:

  • optimised the mining fleet;
  • relocated basic service and refuelling infrastructure on-site to shorten travel distances;
  • replaced lighting infrastructure with improved energy-efficient technology;
  • improved blasting practices; and
  • reduced mineral waste.

These initiatives contribute to a reduced carbon footprint and also assist in mitigating the impact of diesel cost during the year, due to increased usage of diesel-powered generators in response to the inconsistent supply of grid electricity from Eskom.

Ghaghoo solar plant

Over the past 18 months, we considerably reduced our power requirements at Ghaghoo, which has no access to grid electricity. Following this reduction, a solar power solution was commissioned in January 2024 to completely replace the existing diesel generator power supply.

The solar power solution will eliminate 1 066 tonnes of CO2 (the equivalent of charging 135.5 million smartphones) per year, with an estimated six-month payback period.

This initiative supports the Group’s cost reduction and decarbonisation goals, as well as Ghaghoo’s rehabilitation and closure objectives. Securing long-term power for the Ghaghoo operation also means that the operation can be handed over to the Government of Botswana without the ongoing costs associated with diesel generators.

Our goal remains to improve our energy-usage efficiencies, introduce renewable energy sources to our operations and reduce our carbon emissions. We work with the operations to identify and implement initiatives aimed at reducing costs, improving resource consumption and reducing our carbon, energy and water footprint.


Our approach to water stewardship is informed by our comprehensive water management strategy. We actively minimise freshwater use by recycling and reusing water on site, recovering run-off water, managing the impact and flow of stormwater, and lowering our water consumption where possible. We continually explore water catchment protection, water treatment and freshwater use reduction opportunities for our operations. Our responsible approach to water management has matured to align with appropriate best practice standards and operational trends in water use and impact; and it prioritises the needs of our stakeholders.

Letšeng has a comprehensive water monitoring and stewardship plan, informed by bi-annual water footprint assessments, including a detailed water monitoring protocol for analysing water quality on site and downstream, and monitoring consumption volumes through mining, treatment and other site projects and activities. During 2023, Letšeng implemented a detailed, integrated water management programme based on updated surface water quality monitoring protocols.

Since 2010, we have provided communities with access to safe potable water and dignified sanitation facilities through our CSI programme. These facilities have not only improved the health and hygiene of students at the schools and inhabitants of the villages, but also the health of the water-related ecosystems that were previously polluted with E. coli caused by livestock.


We continually seek ways to improve our waste-reduction efforts to minimise our impact on the natural environment and PACs.

Our operations comply with the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste. We ensure that relevant permits are in place when hazardous waste is moved from Lesotho to South Africa, as there are currently no hazardous waste disposal sites in Lesotho. Hazardous waste is responsibly disposed of in South Africa at certified sites which issue certificates of safe disposal. Medical waste (from on-site clinics) is incinerated on site, reducing the cost and emissions associated with transportation of waste to the nearest alternative incineration site.

Non-mineral waste generated at our operations is separated at source and managed in accordance with our waste management policies. In 2023, we investigated a tyre-reuse programme within our PACs, promoted awareness of green procurement processes, improved food waste processing to achieve usable compost, and updated our waste management strategy.

Mineral waste

Over the past three years we have made significant progress in reducing the volume and associated footprint of our mineral waste. Mineral waste is retained on site at Letšeng at mineral waste dumps that comply with in-country requirements and international best practice.

In 2021, as part of our decarbonisation strategy, we embarked on a committed drive to improve on the fundamentals of mineral waste management at Letšeng. This mineral waste management optimisation strategy included reviewing haul routes and mineral waste volumes as it forms part of the mining process to embed a culture of integrated planning and environmental impact mitigation within Letšeng.

Our mineral waste reduction initiatives demonstrate the holistic, integrated approach embraced by our mine planning team. Increasingly, cost reduction, decarbonisation, environmental and rehabilitation considerations are integrated into decision-making, resulting in the realisation of broad and mutually supportive benefits.

Route optimisation

As a result of the mineral waste management optimisation strategy, Letšeng redesigned its haul routes in 2021. The reduced hauling distance contributed significantly to reduced diesel consumption, emissions and equipment wear in 2023. In addition to the reduced mineral waste hauling distance, we also relocated our diesel depots in 2023 to reduce the distance vehicles need to travel to refuel.

In response to the deepening pits, which results in increased diesel consumption, we worked with our service providers to reduce tramming distances associated with regular equipment maintenance. Where possible and appropriate, basic maintenance is now carried out in the pits, eliminating the need for mining equipment tramming excessive distances to undergo basic maintenance, resulting in reduced diesel consumption.

We also reviewed our blasting protocol to reduce the frequency of blasts and volume of explosives. The reviewed blasting protocol reduces the frequency of mining equipment having to evacuate the pits, diesel consumption, explosives volumes and associated carbon emissions and operating costs.

Pit optimisation

We continue to responsibly optimise our pit designs, as improved designs can significantly reduce the amount of mineral waste required to be moved. Reducing the volume of mineral waste results in reduced hauling distances, diesel consumption and associated emissions. Given the high cost of diesel, these advancements have the benefit of significantly reducing operational costs. The reduced mineral waste volumes will also have a substantial impact on our long-term mine planning, reducing the eventual environmental liabilities incurred to rehabilitate environmental footprints.

Hydrocarbon management

Letšeng operates on the principle of zero oil contamination to the environment and, accordingly, hydrocarbon management is a priority. We continue to conduct pre-task inspections, spill response training, and monitoring to minimise hydrocarbon spills and environmental impacts. Workshops and diesel depots are connected to oil separators to ensure minimal contamination of water and soil. If an accidental oil spill occurs, the contaminated soil is collected and treated at an on-site soil treatment and remediation facility.

In 2023, we implemented a polluter-pays principle, with remediation costs being recovered from contractors.

Our performance


Gem Diamonds' carbon footprint is calculated every six months, in accordance with The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, an accounting tool developed by the World Resources Institute and the Business Council for Sustainable Development to manage GHG emissions. The standard includes Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change GHG inventory guidelines for specific heating values, carbon content, densities and emission factors.

In early 2023, the Group committed to a 30% reduction of its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, using 2021 as our baseline. Bi-annual carbon footprint assessments ensure that we are able to track our performance against our 2030 decarbonisation target, and implement further emissions reduction measures where appropriate.

Our total 2023 carbon footprint for the Group was 110 198 tCO2e (2022: 112 827 tCO2e), 28% lower than our 2021 carbon emissions. This includes direct carbon emissions (Scope 1), energy indirect carbon emissions (Scope 2) and material Scope 3 emissions.

Carbon emissions Unit 2023 2021 Performance against 2021 baseline (%)
Scope 1 (direct) tCO2e 46 963 62 672 (25)
Scope 2 (indirect) tCO2e 49 975 67 473                         (26)
Total Scope 1 and 2 tCO2e 96 938 130 145                         (26)
Scope 3 (indirect) tCO2e 13 259 23 718                         (44)
Total Scope 1, 2 and 3 tCO2e 110 198 153 863 (28)
Total tonnes mined (ore and waste) tonnes 14 260 661 24 395 986                         (42)
Ore tonnes treated tonnes 5 024 665 6 172 428 (19)
Carats recovered carats 109 656 115 336 (5)
Intensity indicator: Scope 1 and 2 tCO2e)/Tonnes mined (ore and waste) ratio 0.007 0.005 27
Intensity indicator: Scope 1 and 2 (tCO2e)/Tonnes ore treated ratio 0.019 0.021                         (9)
Intensity indicator: Scope 1 and 2 (tCO2e)/Carats recovered ratio 0.884 1.128                         (22)

The reduction of Group-wide carbon emissions since 2021, has been driven by the reduction of our ore and waste production profiles as well as the implementation of initiatives to reduce energy consumption, improve energy-use efficiencies and transition to renewable energy sources. We have implemented the following operational measures that have contributed to the reduction of our carbon footprint and associated energy costs:

  • Energy efficient lighting: replacing all lighting infrastructure at Letšeng with energy-efficient technology;
  • Electrical load management system: designed a priority controlled electrical load management system for Letšeng;
  • Transitioned the Ghaghoo operation from diesel-powered generators to renewable solar power;
  • Reduced hauling distances through a redesign of our hauling routes;
  • Reviewed our blasting protocol to reduce the frequency of blasts and the volume of explosives used;
  • Relocated diesel depots to reduce the distance mining equipment needs to travel to refuel;
  • Reviewed the basic maintenance processes and purchased a mobile maintenance vehicle for the mining fleet to reduce tramming in and out of the pits.

The above measures, and reduced ore and waste profiles, have resulted in the mobile diesel consumption (diesel consumed by our mining fleet and equipment) reducing by 35% since 2021. As a result of the reduced diesel consumption, we have also seen a 25% reduction in our Scope 1 carbon emissions over the period.

While the Group has been working to decarbonise the Letšeng operation, our most material carbon emissions contributor, the South African electricity grid, has deteriorated and load shedding has worsened. The Letšeng operation relies on diesel-powered generators to ensure a reliable electricity supply during load shedding. Since 2021, there has been a 215% increase in generator hours and 245% increase in the volume of diesel consumed for generator power. The increase in diesel consumption by the generators has been offset by the reduction in diesel consumption by the mining fleet and equipment.

Scope 2 emissions have reduced by 26% since 2021 (2023: 49 975 tCO2e), this reduction was driven by a combination of load shedding and energy efficiency initiatives implemented at Letšeng to reduce energy consumption.


Gem Diamonds acknowledges the impact climate change will have on reshaping the future of freshwater as changing precipitation patterns are shifting seasons and affecting the timing and quantity of freshwater recharge. The impact of unmitigated industry on water quality will further exacerbate an already vulnerable global water supply system and water stewardship has therefore been integrated into our business strategy as a responsible mining company and good corporate citizen.

Our water stewardship strategy is informed by nature-based solutions that offer synergies between ecosystem health and human well-being, while ensuring adequate water supply for operational activities. At Letšeng, ongoing water analysis over the years has indicated an increase in nitrates in our water. Elevated nitrate levels are often associated with mining activities but are also attributed to the application of fertilizers, human and animal waste and other sources. Nitrates may also be naturally present as a result of soil nitrification processes from the mineralisation and mobilisation of nitrate from natural soil or host rock lithologies.

In 2014, in response to the increase in nitrate levels, Letšeng commissioned a nitrate management study to find and implement solutions to prevent nitrate-infused water leaving the lease area. The study was extensive, and the solutions put in place have been far-reaching and effective. An official nitrate task team, which works in collaboration with the relevant departments within the Lesotho Government, was also established. Since the commissioning of the nitrate management study, the operation has implemented the following solutions to conserve water quality:

  • Commissioned a wetland construction and rehabilitation programme.
  • Refined and amended blasting practices and procedures to limit the volume of nitrates from explosives released into the environment.
  • Partnered with water conservation experts to trial the feasibility of fertigation and bioremediation as treatment methods and conducted leach testing to better understand the management options.

Following the successful trial of a passive treatment technology with leading experts, iWater, the results from two pilot plants indicated that bioremediation was an effective denitrification process for our unique operating environment. In 2023 we commenced with the construction of a bioremediation treatment plant, with capacity to treat ~300 kilolitres of water per day. The first module of this plant was commissioned at the end of 2023, with the remaining five modules commissioned in February 2024.

In 2023, Letšeng completed the design of an artificial phytoremediation (plant-based filtration) wetland to be located downstream from the bioremediation treatment facility. We previously established another wetland within the mine lease area to further increase denitrification of the run-off water. Wetlands have proven to effectively offset environmental impacts, contribute to rehabilitation of the environment, increase biodiversity, and acted as a natural source of water treatment.

Refer to our detailed Water stewardship case study in our Sustainability Report 2022 for more on our approach.

We are mindful of our PACs access to sufficient potable water. Letšeng has, through its CSI department, provided access to clean water and sanitation infrastructure to multiple villages within Lesotho to assist communities in dealing with the issue of coliform contamination of surface water. This is not related to mining activities, but rather as a result of livestock fouling. At Ghaghoo, we continue to provide potable water to the Gope Community, with a potable water storage facility situated at the nearby police camp.

The Group water footprint (net water usage) for 2023 was 2.3 million cubic meters (m3) (2022: 3.3 million m3). Refer to our Annual Report and Accounts 2023 for more on our water footprint and consumption performance metrics.

Our context

A consistent and stable supply of power is critical for mining operations. Load shedding escalated to unprecedented levels during 2023, with the South African grid being affected by load shedding on 335 days, up from 205 days in 2022, 75 days in 2021 and 54 days in 2020. The ever-increasing instability of Eskom’s grid resulted in significantly increased reliance on our diesel-powered generators to power the mining operations (4 296 hours, compared to 2 997 hours in 2022).

The Letšeng operation accounts for 98% of the Group’s energy consumption and the high cost of diesel has exacerbated the impact of load shedding on the mining operation. Our energy use is directly related to both the cost of production and our carbon emissions footprint. Our energy savings planning and initiatives are increasingly important to the long term sustainability of the operating model, as it not only reduces the costs to the Company but also reduced the environmental impact through the reduction of carbon emissions. The drive to reduce energy consumption is a clear priority, whether the operation is powered by grid electricity or more costly diesel powered generators.

Our approach

We recognise the need to appropriately transition to energy sources that are less carbon intensive than the traditional fossil fuel-based energy sources currently powering our operations. At Letšeng, we have a generator-based back-up power supply system to ensure a consistent supply of energy to our mining operations and associated infrastructure during periods of load shedding and other grid power disruptions.

Refer to here for information on our carbon-pricing model, decarbonisation strategy and energy consumption performance.

The analysis and studies we completed during the first two phases of our TCFD adoption strategy clearly indicated that our first priority for effective decarbonisation should be to improve our energy-consumption efficiencies, thereby reducing our energy requirements.

Accordingly, we focus on leveraging energy efficiencies to minimise energy consumption while we assess renewable energy alternatives. This ensures that we derive the maximum benefit of reduced consumption and decarbonisation at an appropriate cost. We will continue evaluating power sources and technology to reduce carbon emissions and secure a stable and cost-effective energy supply.

Our performance

The Group has implemented a number of initiatives, since adopting the TCFD recommendations, to reduce energy consumption and associated carbon emissions. The Group is constantly reviewing its energy performance in terms of the 2021 baseline (as set out in our decarbonisation strategy) to ensure we are progressing our targets. Since 2021, we have reduced our total Scope 1 and 2 energy consumption by 32%. Our Scope 1 energy consumption has reduced by 34% and our grid-based energy consumption has reduced by 26% compared to 2021.

Since 2021, we have:
Consumption trends per carat recovered Reduced diesel consumption per carat recovered by 38% Reduced grid supplied electricity consumption per carat recovered by 22% Reduced Scope 1 and 2 energy consumption per carat recovered by 29%
Consumption trends per tonne treated Reduced diesel consumption per tonne treated by 27% Reduced grid supplied electricity consumption per tonne treated by 9% Reduced Scope 1 and 2 energy consumption per tonne treated by 17%

Refer to our Annual Report and Accounts 2023 for more on our energy footprint performance metrics.

Our context

Gem Diamonds has developed and implemented an innovative strategy to sustain biodiversity within our mine lease areas and preserve the natural environment to promote the ecosystem services found in these unique bioregions.

The Letšeng mine is situated on the edge of the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Project and the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site in the highlands of Lesotho. Mines have finite lifespans, and we acknowledge our responsibility to protect the biodiversity of indigenous flora and fauna surrounding our mine, during mining activity and post-closure.

We ensure that biodiversity is included in our financial, mine closure and long-term strategic planning, and that adequate financial provision is made for rehabilitation. Our mine closure plans also consider the environmental and socio-economic impacts on our PACs.

Our approach

Our innovative strategy to sustain biodiversity within our mine lease areas preserves the natural environment and promotes ecosystem viability in these unique bioregions. We aim to protect and manage natural habitats in a way that ensures no net loss of biodiversity. Ultimately, we intend to contribute meaningfully to environmental and socio-economic sustainability and prosperity for our host countries, PACs and businesses. Letšeng is committed to mitigating environmental damage, protecting biodiversity and enhancing conservation efforts and continues to work to implement concurrent rehabilitation plans to enhance biodiversity and mitigate our environmental impact over the life of the mine.

Partnerships play a critical role in our biodiversity protection work. We collaborate extensively with our host countries, PACs, regulators, scientists and other industry stakeholders to implement practical environmental protection strategies and solutions. Our partnerships with local subsistence farmers include implementing rotational grazing and veld management programmes to ensure that rangelands outside of the mine lease area are protected from overgrazing, and that overgrowth within the mine lease area is managed.

Bioremediation is the cornerstone of our water quality conservation efforts, and a critical part of our stakeholder relationships. We work to prevent the loss of plant species through a rescue and relocation initiative – the Priority Plant Relocation Procedure. We helped establish a high altitude rescue plant garden and seed storage facility in Lesotho with the most comprehensive native seed collection in the country.

We conduct biodiversity and veld quality monitoring every two years, with the last complete cycle occurring in 2023. Our operations are noted as having a minimal impact on biodiversity on site, and a positive upward trend in the total number of species, including Red Data and restricted species, has been recorded over the past several cycles.

Our biodiversity risk assessments consider all threatened, migratory and endemic species and regionally relevant ecosystem services. We implemented the biodiversity offset strategy at Letšeng to mitigate mining-related impacts on biodiversity. Our offset strategy is supported by a comprehensive monitoring programme, enabling us to record and track species numbers and diversity within the mine lease area and region.

Our operations have mature and detailed social and environmental management plans (SEMPs) that underpin our biodiversity and conservation efforts. These plans consider all threatened, migratory and endemic species within our mine lease areas and regional ecosystems. In 2023, our revised SEMP was finalised, approved by the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho and adopted.

Operational biodiversity management plans for Letšeng were developed by external biodiversity specialists and are reviewed annually.

Our performance

Letšeng has successfully implemented various activities on trial rehabilitation sites in 2023, including eradicating invasive plant species, remediating soil erosion, and reseeding and vegetative planting to facilitate natural regeneration. The rehabilitation trial results for Letšeng’s waste rock area concluded that Tenaxia disticha, a small evergreen shrub native to South Africa, is a model species to stabilise waste rock facilities during rehabilitation.

Livestock overgrazing and trampling cause harm to wetlands through soil compaction, vegetation removal and stream bank destabilisation. Wetlands offer water and excellent forage for livestock, so livestock tend to spend a disproportionately large amount of time in these. The establishment of no-go areas at Letšeng reduced overgrazing and resulted in the return of several plant and animal species previously driven out of the area.

Letšeng’s existing wetland rehabilitation programme have restored these critical ecosystems within the region. Since 2013, the Qaqa wetland has continued to develop naturally, steadily improving water quality and allowing for indigenous vegetation to flourish. The planned wetland in the RTZ Valley is expected to have a similar positive impact on biodiversity.

At Ghaghoo, our environmental rehabilitation and closure workstream included a significant clean-up and restoration of the site in 2023, as part of concurrent rehabilitation activities.

Refer to our Mammels of Letšeng case study for more information.