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Case Study: Lignosulphonate dust binder reduces fugitive road dust at underground coal mine

The optimal operating conditions of haul roads in coal mines is often a feast or famine scenario: the surface is either too wet from excessive watering for dust control purposes or too dry and dusty from a lack of effective treatment.

An underground coal mine* in NSW was experiencing an ongoing cycle of these two issues when management first contacted Dust-A-Side Australia, looking for a way to reduce fugitive dust levels. 

*Client name withheld to protect privacy. 

The Problem

The mine has a 10 km stretch of haul road, totaling 70,000 square metres in road surface. This stretch of road is central to daily operations with 180 - 200 truck and dog movements per day. 

Even though the road surface is sealed, the frequency of so many heavy vehicles trafficking the road was creating high volumes of wheel generated dust. This was causing issues with operator visibility. The dust was also spreading to neighbouring communities and ultimately settling within the local ecosystem.

To combat the dust, the mine was using multiple water carts to regularly spray the road surface with untreated water. While this approach had some short term success, it ultimately led to degraded road quality, reduced tyre traction, slower haul cycles and increased maintenance costs. Additionally, the strategy required the consumption of enormous volumes of water. 

Management at the mine realised there was a need to find a more cost-effective, efficient and sustainable way to control the fugitive dust. 

Malabar Dust Control (1)

The Solution

To help the client, the team at Dust-A-Side Australia first inspected the stretch of haul road and monitored the amount of dust being generated. It was determined that a spray on dust binder product would be an effective alternative to relying on untreated water. HydroTac was selected to use in an initial trial as it is a cost effective option and was able to be used by the clients’ existing fleet. The product was applied to the haul road surface via a series of light dilutions using the mines’ existing water carts.

HydroTac is a specially formulated, lignosulphonate based binder that can be used on haul roads, access roads and other exposed surfaces as a spray-on dust control treatment. Totally organic, it has no corrosive chloride compounds and is biodegradable and environmentally friendly.

Working as a hygroscopic crusting agent, this dust control product helps mines to reduce the frequency of water cart usage for dust control purposes. Water evaporates from the lignosulphonates within the binder as it dries and the dust particles are trapped by the high-viscosity, naturally sticky material and therefore can’t become airborne. 

Download: HydroTac Fact Sheet

As part of the trial, Dust-A-Side Australia set up a product dosing pump to operate at set times according to water cart tank capacity and seasonality. The pumps allow for the controlled, consistent dosage of HydroTac into the water carts. This made it easy for water cart and grader drivers to avoid under or overdosing the amount of product used.

Operators were also provided with training by Dust-A-Side on how to correctly administer HydroTac and how often. 


The Results

The trial was a success for the mine. Previously, multiple water carts were being deployed every shift to spray water onto the haul road. Now only one cart spraying diluted HydroTac is needed approximately three times per shift. Additional treatments are occasionally needed after a rain event. 

Fugitive dust has been reduced by approximately 50% which has resulted in improved operator visibility. Water consumption required for dust control has decreased by between 70-80% and so have overall operation costs. 

HydroTac is now a permanent part of the mines’ dust control strategy and Dust-A-Side Australia continues to work with management to provide monitoring, training and product supply. 


Contact Dust-A-Side Australia to learn about trialling our products

If fugitive dust is an ongoing issue at your site, the team at Dust-A-Side Australia can help. Click here to request a no obligation sales call or technical consultation. 

Download: HydroTac Fact Sheet