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  Environment  -  Strategy

  Environmental Management

Letšeng Diamonds aims to operate an ISO 14001 compliant environmental management system. This is supported by an updated and comprehensive Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) and a Social and Environmental Management Plan (SEMP). All of these meet International Finance Corporation Performance Standards and are aligned with the Equator Principles.

The SEMP is supported by several sectoral management plans, such as Biodiversity, Waste and Hazardous Substances, Air Quality, Water Quality, Social, and Energy. These in turn are supported by numerous specialist and scientific studies that were commissioned by Letšeng Diamonds.

In addition, Letšeng Diamonds has studied the “Ecosystem Goods and services” approach that analyses and seeks to maximise the benefits that the natural environment offers or alternatively seeks to minimise the loss of or to offset the loss of such benefits.

  Water Quality

Letšeng Diamonds’ operations are at 3275 metres above sea level, on the watershed between Khubelu and Matsoku drainages, which flow to the proposed Polihali Dam and the famous Katse Dam respectively. It is imperative therefore for Letšeng Diamonds to meet the challenge of ensuring that only clean and unpolluted water leaves the mining area.

A comprehensive water monitoring protocol has been developed and water samples are taken monthly, quarterly and bi-annually from selected sites throughout the mining lease are as well as from control sites on rivers unaffected by mining activities. The results are routinely reported to the government.

Water is analysed for a variety of chemicals including e-coli, nitrates, sulphates and metals. In addition, river health is monitored by measuring the biological status of diatoms and SASS5 samples. Lastly, every effort is made to re-use and recycle process water, still ensuring that sufficient flow is maintained for use by communities downstream.

At present, slightly elevated levels of nitrates are detected in some of the water sampling points. While the exact causes of this are under investigation, an ambitious and experimental project, an artificial wetland on the tributary of the Qaqa stream, has been constructed. In addition to rehabilitating an area previously mined for alluvial diamonds, it is hoped that the new wetland, perhaps the highest man-made wetland in southern Africa, will reduce the level of nitrates in the water through natural biological and chemical filtering in the wetland biomass.

  Air Quality

Although diamond treatment is a relatively “clean” process, involving no harmful chemical emissions, any mining activity has the potential to generate dust. Dust monitoring is therefore conducted through monthly sampling. A network of dust buckets situated at strategic points around the mining area is used. No significant threat has been detected as yet.

Letšeng Diamonds’ carbon footprint is assessed annually. In 2014, a strategy that suggests ways of reducing the Mine’s carbon footprint was developed. In order to reduce harmful emissions from earthmoving machinery, a diesel additive is used. Much of the waste is burned in a European Union-approved incinerator that generates minimal harmful emissions.


  Hydrocarbon Management

“One litre of oil pollutes one million litres of water”. Letšeng Diamonds operates on the principle of zero oil contamination to the environment. Hydrocarbon management therefore receives high priority. Workshops and diesel depots are all connected to oil separators to ensure minimal contamination of water and soil.

Whenever an accidental oil spill occurs, the contaminated soil is either treated on site or collected and transported to a specially designed soil treatment and rehabilitation yard. It then biologically treated for eventual return to the natural environment.


Letšeng Diamonds has designed and costed post-mining closure and rehabilitation requirements. Concurrent rehabilitation is being undertaken with the implementation of rehabilitation trials to test various methods in order to estimate optimal techniques for soil stability and plant growth at Letšeng’s high altitude. Letšeng Diamonds has also calculated and made provision for premature and unforeseen closure of the Mine.


Lesotho’s unique afro-alpine flora is worthy of the highest levels of protection. The Mine is situated on the edge of Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Project (MDTP) and of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site. Topsoil is stripped from all sites that are to be impacted by mining and stored for re-use in the rehabilitation operations. Plants are rescued and cared for at Mine’s nursery. Propagation of genera such as Scirpus is undertaken for later re-planting by members of the local communities.

Letšeng Diamonds has also created a wonderful biodiversity garden, perhaps the highest such garden in southern Africa, where a collection of Lesotho’s amazing variety of high altitude flora is on display.