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Case Study: How Dust-A-Side Significantly Reduced Operational Costs for a NSW Coal Mine

In a constantly challenging coal market, many mines across Australia are looking for ways to reduce costs wherever possible and also improve productivity. 

Dust-A-Side has the capacity and expertise to work with mine operators to not only suppress dust emissions from haul roads and materials handling, but also deliver real value-adding services.

This case study takes a look at how Dust-A-Side has been able to help a coal mine* in NSW achieve significant reductions in operating costs which has in turn helped the mine to be more productive and efficient. 

*The clients’ name has been withheld for confidentiality reasons. 

About the client and why Dust-A-Side was engaged


The client originally engaged Dust-A-Side at the end of 2019 for help with controlling dust levels on their haul road network. 

The reduction of water usage for dust suppression purposes was a particular concern for the client due to ongoing drought conditions. 

Through the implementation of our haul road managed service program, and the application of our patented dust suppression products, dust emissions were kept suppressed while reducing water consumption by 60% (110ML/mth down to 41ML/mth)

Following drought breaking weather in early 2020, Dust-A-Side quickly pivoted our service offering to demonstrate additional operational cost savings as reducing water consumption was no longer the only critical driver for the client. 

Projct scope

Dust-A-Side currently delivers an on-site managed service package to the client which is driven by supporting project delivery and driving operational improvements.  

The scope of this on-site service includes managing the application of our dust suppression product HydroTac across 20km of main haul roads and adjacent light vehicle roads. 

A Dust-A-Side Project Supervisor is based on-site to oversee the daily coordination and optimisation of HydroTac applications, operator training and watercart use. This includes directing general road maintenance and repairs. 

The Project Supervisor is further responsible for managing the on-site bulk storage of HydroTac and managing control of product use in the program as well as project KPI reporting and impact analysis. 

Various out of scope improvement initiatives have also been spearheaded by the Project Supervisor in order to achieve better productivity outcomes such as road building improvements, training of grader operators as well as providing backup operation when required. 

About HydroTac 

HydroTac is an organic lignosulphonate based road binder offering superior dust control results. It is our most versatile road binder product and has been specially formulated for use 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 environmentally friendly and readily biodegradable.

The hygroscopic properties of HydroTac attracts moisture to aid surface penetration. Water evaporates from the lignosulfonate as it dries and the dust particles are trapped by the high-viscosity, naturally sticky material.

When used correctly with QA programs in place, HydroTac helps mines to reduce water usage for dust control purposes by up to 60%.

The proof

As can be seen in the following graphs, the impact of implementing Dust-A-Side’s road management services has helped the client achieve significant reductions in operational costs.

To begin with, water cart hours have been reduced by 50% (when comparing actual water cart hours vs forecasted hours). Grader hours have also improved noticeably, with a 25% reduction. 

These reductions have led to profound cost-savings for the client as well as the re-deployment of equipment and staff for more productive tasks. 

Water Cart Hours Actual vs Forecast

Grader Hours Actual vs Forecast

Additionally, the managed service that Dust-A-Side implemented for the client delivered an on-forecast result for product use with no unexpected increases in product use or resulting cost variations.

In actual fact, HydroTac product usage has been below target usage. This is the result of having the trained Project Supervisor on site to correctly coordinate product usage and application.

Consequently, the client is not wasting money by over-using the supplied dust suppression product. 


The client’s ROI

With a total annual investment of $2.9m for Dust-A-Side’s managed service to date, the client has seen a considerable ROI comprised of the following:

  • Watercart fleet reduction (2 x CAT 785s, 1 Moxy and 1 x CAT 777 (off hired/no longer required)
  • Grader fleet reduction (1 x CAT 24M no longer required)
  • Estimated $3.4m annual saving in water cart usage 
  • Estimated $1.1m reduction in grader operating costs per annum
  • Water consumption reduced from 110ML/month to 41ML/month on average
  • Further improvements experienced with haul road running surface (reduced tyre wear, fuel consumption and quicker wet weather recovery)

Future innovations 

Dust-A-Side will continue to work with the client to reduce operational costs, improve efficiency and productivity gains and of course minimise dust emissions.

Plans for future innovations as part of the managed service include:

  • Implementing DAS Metrics and ARID (Autonomous Road Inspection Device) road condition monitoring and analysis.
  • Product delivery pump automations.
  • DAS Product bitumen emulsion trials for permanent roads and further operating cost reductions.

Want to learn more about how Dust-A-Side can help your site reduce operating costs?

Simply get in touch with us today to arrange an on-site technical consultation and report.

We’ll provide you with a detailed cost analysis based on the size of your haul road network.

We’ll also provide you with figures showing how soon you’ll break even by engaging our services and how much you will be likely to save on operating costs.