Correct dust suppression in an Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) mining operation is a problem! 

Up until recently, there has been no real scientific or even common best approach for improving dust suppression techniques and science in an AHS pit, it has simply just been business as usual for dust suppression.

The Problems

One of the biggest constraints to many AHS operations is the number of negative impacts on Autonomous Haul Truck (AHT) cycles caused by obstacles detection systems (ODS) events. Very few actual ODS events occur because of critical safety events. 

Often these ODS events are false negatives caused by:

  • Slight ground condition rutting
  • Water pooling from rain or excessive watering
  • Excessive dust
  • Mechanical component failures
  • Even Sun glare 

Every time an AHT has one of these ODS events it must be physically attended by a member of the pit operations team, even if it is one of the numerous false negatives. Obviously, this is a time-consuming manual process that needs to be avoided in the first place. Often in a new AHS operation these events can number over 120 per shift.

Are environmental regulations, health and safety concerns or potential profit loss a concern right now?

The best way an AHS mine can reduce ODS events in the first place is to have well maintained and designed haul roads that better suit AHS operating requirements. Using the right tool for the job when it comes to dust suppression is imperative.

With the early continuing development of Caterpillar and Komatsu Autonomous mining water trucks beginning to gain traction with their products one of the biggest challenges has always been how to best get the dust suppression medium applied correctly and accurately, until now it has always been a manual process performed with less than optimum equipment which is then left to the individual water truck operator’s discretion to determine application areas and volumes.

Global Road Technology (GRT) Haul-Loc Dust Control System is uniquely positioned to compliment the use of AHS by incorporating into a more data-driven dust suppression application system rather than the traditional individual operator manual approach which leaves huge inconsistences in accuracy and hence results. Autonomous water trucks will reduce volume by only applying the substance to desired areas of the pit when required, and as environmental conditions change during the shift the requirement to have a water truck operating unnecessarily can be much easier managed.

Simply put AHS works best when interactions are kept to a bare minimum. One of the biggest contributors to these interactions are the water trucks. By using more technologically advanced dust suppression techniques and products this not only reduces troublesome, unwanted interactions in the pit, but also greatly reduces the lost operating time from false positive ODS events.

You can already easily see the compounding benefits GRT’s Haul-Loc and SMART Dosing systems can have on an AHS mine sites operating model. 

Improved dust suppression products and techniques incorporated with autonomous mechanical applications is a win in every column.

AHS has come a long way in the last 15 years, now it is time some of the other associated operating practices begin to develop, improve, and refine. Automated dust suppression has a huge advantage in this area as it has multiple positive outcomes for mining safety and productivity. 

As environmental considerations and the availability to water become increasingly scarce in many mining regions of the world, improved dust suppression products and techniques are the next logical step in the progression of an automated mining operation.

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