Dust Control Methods – The management of dust generated from different activities such as mining, vehicular movement, stockpiling, mechanical grinding, blasting, drilling amongst many other sources of dust. Methods employed to control dust vary according to the constituents that are used to suppress the dust and some of the methods include biological, mechanical and chemical dust control. Each method works differently but in most cases more than one method is utilized as collaborative approaches are taken to reduce the impact of fugitive dust. The most important reason why dust control methods are of paramount importance is related to worker health and safety through reducing the susceptibility and exposure to dust of different chemical constituents from dust created in the different dust generating activities. Some dust control methods are more common than the others which entirely depends on the needs of different clients hence chemical dust control methods are often used relative to mechanical and biological dust control methods. Factors like ease in application, readiness to be used and mixed in with water which is the most common dust control palliative and the savings owing to use of existing infrastructure contribute to the popularity of chemical dust control methods although in some instance’s preference for mechanical and biological dust control methods is also justified. The core of the work will focus on types of dust control methods from a worker and safety health perspective with emphasis on Global Road Technology expert and innovative solutions.

Size matters

Although small, dust particles pose health and safety threats to all mining operations with the risk of workers bearing the brunt of the post exposure effects to dust if dust control methods are not applied. The prolonged exposure to dust generated from mining activities may result in long-term health ailments such as silicosis and coal mine workers pneumoconiosis. Although worker safety and health has been approached from a reduction in exposure limits the risk of pulmonary damage to workers is far from over because legislation is one piece of the puzzle the other components consist of effective methods which tackle dust at the source prior its exposure to workers, communities that live close to mines and the environment. The choice of effective dust control method should factor in a zero tolerance to exposure and target extremely low occupational exposure limits amongst mine workers with coal dust and silica dust considered amongst the most notorious dust occupational hazards. In addition to the effectiveness of the dust control method the follow up is critical to make sure that management and maintenance of the dust control method takes place in order to achieve consistent and sustainable results that benefit the worker safety and health, lowers maintenance costs and increases operational capacity in the greater scheme of things. 

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“The right stuff”

Dust control method selection is determined by an array of factors which depend on where it is being used. For instance in unsealed haul road applications the road use can either permanent or dynamic and type of vehicles such as whether they are heavy or light vehicles, the size of the haul fleet, the nature of the materials used on the roads in addition to the climate which could vary from tropical to arid all feed into the selection criteria for the suitable dust control method. The dust control method chosen should be on thorough assessment of site conditions, extent to which dust problems are prevalent on the site with client consultations to achieve optimal results with limited effects on the mining activities as solutions are often offered to constant production working environments hence dust control methods are often beneficial if they can be employed with minimal interruptions to production. Dust control methods that curb dust emissions at the source are often preferable given that most dust related health problems often manifest later in the work and service life of mine workers hence it should be a no compromise approach. In a different scenario, stockpiling can either happen for future purposes as is evident in a dead stockpile relative to a stockpile which is live and being worked on so that also becomes a factor to consider in choice of dust control method. 

Biological, mechanical and chemical methodology examples

Biological dust control methods include enzyme-induced carbonate precipitation which is an eco-friendly technology involving a process which is mild whilst having controllable conditions as the byproduct calcium carbonate is compatible with the environment, fills the pores and gaps in the soil matrix offering a certain level of cohesiveness to the loose matrix. In principle, the calcium carbonate produced by enzyme mineralization can reduce soil porosity and also act as a bridge to connect soil particles as a whole. Some biological dust control methods utilize urease extracted from soyabeans for control of coal dust pollution with other research driven initiatives using strains of urease producing bacteria with extracellular and intracellular enzymes for production of mineralization products. The bacteria liquid was found to effectively bind coal dust to form coal dust consolidation bodies containing calcite and vaterite type calcium carbonate. Processes associated with the biological carbon cycle, sulfur cycle and nitrogen cycle in nature can induce formation of mineralization. The basis has been found to be urea hydrolysis pathways in the nitrogen cycle, strong controllability, strong adhesion and good compatibility with stone materials of mineralization products such as calcium carbonate formed with cationic calcium. 

Mechanical dust control methods involve use of misting systems, cyclones and bag houses which are set up at transfer points on belts. In most cases mechanical dust control methods involve some form of automation and as more and more mines are adopting the digital era of mines the mechanical dust control methods can be monitored in real time. Whilst automation may remove some of the health risks associated with dusty work environments, dust also impacts greatly on the systems integral to automation such as sensors and moving parts. Chemical dust control methods can be divided into traditional and non-traditional with the latter more preferred given the more targeted approach to chemical dust suppression and less challenges associated with earth stewardship. Examples of common, non-traditional chemical dust control methods include use of surfactants, liquid polymers and refined synthetic fluids which are very specific in their mechanisms of action. 

Industry best practice

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Global Road Technology offers systems and solutions that integrate chemical dust control agents in practical and efficient operations. GRT Haul-Loc is a formulated liquid polymer which avoids the impact of slowing down or stopping production due to poor visibility on haul mining roads. Mining roads are just not on the surface alone and hence GRT Wet-Loc a refined synthetic fluid can be used for total dust control in underground mining roads. In the interest of ensuring worker safety and health by implementing dust control methods that deal with coal dust at the source products such as GRT Activate UG and GRT Activate are utilized to make water work without effect on coal calorific values. Overall, work safety and health is of primary importance and choice of dust control method depends on the nature of the site and the chemistry of the material that produced dust which is key to the innovative approach of Global Road Technology products. 

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REFERENCES 

Fan et al. 2020. Urease producing microorganisms for coal dust suppression isolated from coal: Characterization and comparative study. Advanced Powder Technology. 1-12. 

Wu et al. 2020. Preparation and performance evaluation of environment-friendly biological dust suppressant. Journal of Cleaner Production. 273 : 123162. 1-19.