The issue of dust is a constant one on mine sites, whether they be open cut or underground, the problem is the same.
Airborne dust presents a major issue on coal mines, which are often located to close to local communities.Late last year the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority’s Dust Stop Program was developed to enforce new standards on dust control, aiming to achieve an 80 per cent dust reduction by this month.
The program required all 30 of NSW’s open cut coal mines to assess their dust control plans including minimising haul road emissions and enforcing poor weather operation standards.
“Mine haul roads are generally dirt roads and sustain continuous heavy vehicle traffic,” EPA acting chief executive Mark Gifford said.
“Dust generated from haul roads within the mines is the biggest source of fine dust particles on most mine sites, contributing about 40 per cent of total emissions.
“When it is windy and dry, this [overburden] dust is more likely to leave mine sites, so tighter control is needed at these times,” Gifford said.
Despite being in practice for 12 months, miners are still facing air quality management issues. In July BHP Billiton’s Mt Arthur coal mine was fined $3000 for a failure to comply with conditions of approval after excessive dust levels.
Departmental response took place within half an hour of the offence being reported, in time for an officer to witness trucks dumping overburden at an elevated level in windy conditions.
Shire of Muswellbrook mayor Martin Rush told Australian Mining that environmental planning conditions requiring the use of best practice techniques to minimise the harmful emission of dust “are not there to decorate mining consents”.
“The conditions are real: They are real because there is no safe level of dust emissions and reducing dust is therefore in everyone’s interest,” he said.
With this in mind, Mantek has developed Settler, a wetting and dust control product that compacts and settles dust of almost any surface.
The product works by reducing the surface tension in soil to allow for faster and deeper water adsorption, which in turn reduces and settles dust to provide better air quality management on site.
“Better dirt compaction eliminated shifting during machinery movement and blasting, which reduces airborne dust,” the company added.