The mining industry is working hard to meet ever tightening standards on dust suppression, which can be a problem across mine sites from processing plants to haul roads. Dust-A-Side discusses its range of dust suppression solutions for all areas of the mine site.
Dust particles may be small, but they can mean big problems for mining operations. Prolonged exposure to dust generated from pit, haul roads and processing may cause potential long-term health issues such as silicosis or black lung disease.
With the risk of lung and airway damage to workers exposed to dust, industry bodies in each state are setting regulations and striving to meet new respiratory levels recommended by Safe Work Australia.
New South Wales is moving to meet new respiratory dust occupational exposure limit (OEL) levels of 1.5 milligrams per cubic metre from Safe Work Australia, while Queensland has moved to halve its silica dust exposure from a standard of 0.1 milligram per cubic metre to 0.05 milligrams per cubic metre.
Regardless of which jurisdiction a mining operation is in, effective dust control requires expert service and quality products, which is something Dust-A-Side offers the industry.
Dust-A-Side national sales and marketing manager Vaughan Gray says the company offers a versatile range of dust suppression solutions and management services, for around the pit, along mine road networks, in processing and throughout transport modes to port, which all experience problematic areas for issues related to dust. What sets Dust-A-Side apart from the rest is its global dust control experience in the mining space and its diagnostic and monitoring capabilities to demonstrate real improvement.
“Having a dust suppression product that is going to work is only half the battle,” Gray tells Safe to Work.
“What is critical with dust control across the supply chain is that you need a solution that is not just applied, but driven by a well managed maintenance program.
“When putting dust suppression products on roads, for example, we take a very consultative approach with our clients to not only ensure the appropriate product is used, but that we work in our client’s existing operational capability to deliver a maintenance program that achieves ongoing results.”
By working with clients to build a dust control program to suit their site, Dust-A-Side not only reduces the dust, but also reduces maintenance costs for haul roads.
Many mining operations use water to control dust on haul roads, which can cause significant wear and tear to the roads, causing long-term damage and only a short-term solution for the dust.
Not only can this cause corrugation and deterioration of haul roads, making them more dangerous for haul truck drivers, but it also increases mining companies’ water usage, which is both costly and in the case of mine sites in dry regions, constitutes heavy usage of a scarce resource.
While water alone is often the easy, accessible solution for dust control, it is not an effective and sustainable option. Using dust binders and agents makes a significant difference.
“Dust-A-Side provides a range of products including bitumen emulsions, surfactants, organic and synthetic polymers,” Gray explains.
“We go through the process of assessing the right type of suppression for the applications and conditions. For example, road use and type (heavy or light vehicles, permanent or dynamic roads), haul fleet size, available material on the roads or the climate (tropical or arid) will all play a part in appropriate product selection.
“Clients often look for the cheapest self-managed solution, but without guidance on the right product or application methods they can quickly come to the conclusion nothing works.
“Binding agents, emulsions and polymers all behave differently, and it is important to understand these variables before just throwing a chemical down.”
Once the appropriate product is recommended for a particular mine site’s requirements, Dust-A-Side then continues its advisory role with the mine to imbed the dust control solution on site and ensure the ongoing maintenance is effective.
Gray says having Dust-A-Side’s team on site to advise clients is just as important as the dust suppression solutions themselves, as the team has expert knowledge of its products and how they work best in all situations.
Dust-A-Side will complete technical site inspections and assessments, which can take between an hour or two to a couple of weeks depending on the frequency and complexity of the dust problems on site.
Dust-A-Side will discuss the dust issues and recommended solutions with the production and maintenance teams to best understand how the solution should be implemented.
“Our clients want us driving optimal results with no detrimental impact to production,” Gray says.
“It is important we understand our clients’ expectations. The conversation generally begins with controlling dust and often what follows from that is the realisation of other environmental and economic benefits from conserving water to realising maintenance cost savings by reducing watercart and grader activity.”
Showing their clients exactly how the solutions make a positive impact is also vital to the Dust-A-Side approach.
“We work constantly with production, HSE and business improvement stakeholders to collect and monitor dust levels, measure road conditions and analyse watercart and grader availability to demonstrate dust reduction and deliver positive ROIs on the dust control investment,” Gray says.
Dust-A-Side has helped many of its clients in dry and arid regions reduce their road operating costs while decreasing their water consumption by 50 to 60 per cent – in some cases by over 80 per cent with full service packages through the introduction of alternative dust suppression technologies.
“The common feedback we get is that their road quality is better, it is much safer for their haul trucks to operate and there are less interruptions to production,” Gray adds.
By reducing dust issues on haul roads, in processing plants, stockpile management and conveyor points, Dust-A-Side is helping to improve the health of mine site workers, to ensure they are happy and healthy for the entirety of their working life.
“Mining companies have a duty of care to their workers and contractors to protect them from dust related health issues, which often don’t manifest until years later in a miner’s life,” Gray says.
“Mine operators are well aware of their duty of care to ensure their workers are not exposed to the danger of emissions and also to contain dust to keep their social license to operate, and Dust-A-Side has a solution for all dust generators on site.”
This article also appears in the Sep-Oct edition of Safe to Work.