With so much of Australia experiencing record levels of drought, mines across the country are contending with water security issues. Local councils, farmers, industry and mines are all competing for scarce water resources, so the need to implement sustainable water solutions has never been so necessary.
As the drought worsens, the challenge grows for miners to continue to operate and conserve water. In particular, miners need to think differently about how they use water for dust control activities.
Unfortunately, above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall conditions are set to continue. As a consequence, many mine operators are facing increasing political and community pressure to find ways to preserve water. This is especially true for many regional council areas where household water restrictions are becoming tighter and demands for accountability are being called for.
There are also mines facing the prospect of closure due to critically low water supplies in extreme drought affected areas. This has forced such mines to resort to costly alternatives, such as carting in water via truck.
One key area where mines can look for ways to reduce water consumption is on haul road networks. Haul roads in both open-cut and underground mining operations are traditionally treated with water to reduce dust emissions caused by haul truck tyres. However, this approach to dust control consumes enormous volumes of water. Relying primarily on water carts running 24-7 for dust suppression activities on the road networks has a negative impact on the environment, and increases road maintenance costs.
To help Australian mines overcome the challenges of operating in these drought conditions, Dust-A-Side is delivering significant reductions in water use on mine roads, while better controlling dust. It may come as a surprise to know these results are not being achieved just because a well-engineered dust suppression product is added to the water cart. In a market full of dust suppression product suppliers, Dust-A-Side has realised that truly sustainable and significant results are delivered through the quality of haul road management programs.
Dust-A-Side is Australia’s only quality accredited supplier in the field of dust control and haul road management. It has developed two levels of haul road management services designed to deliver safer, more cost-effective haul roads that control dust and reduce the use of water.
1 - Managed Service:
Our Managed Service involves the provision of a full-time Project Supervisor to work with and train the client’s operators and manage the establishment and ongoing maintenance of the haul road treatment program aligned with QA processes. A bulk liquids delivery and storage solution is also provided.
Under a Managed Service, clients enjoy the benefits of a controlled establishment and maintenance program that ensures the correct use of dust binders and maintenance reapplications are only conducted when needed. This service is most commonly used with Dust-A-Side’s organic dust binding polymer - HydroTac.
Managed Service case study:
The chart below illustrates the monthly comparative water usage pre and post implementation of Dust-A-Side Managed Service. Under this solution the mine reduced its water usage by approximately 50%. With no end in sight to the drought, such a reduction will have far-reaching benefits for the local community and environment.
The chart below also highlights the additional benefit of implementing a dust control management program under a Dust-A-Side Managed Service arrangement, as opposed to just buying a product. The time period prior to the vertical orange line shows uncontrolled volumes of product use without a consistent and dedicated Project Supervisor managing the process. After the vertical line, a full time Dust-A-Side Managed Service was implemented. Product consumption was quickly reduced to target levels for commercial and operational efficiency.
2 - Full Service:
For optimal water saving results and unlocking cost savings in the maintenance of haul road management, Dust-A-Side offers a Full-Service turnkey solution for mines. The service incorporates the transportation and storage of products, road preparation, road establishment and ongoing maintenance. In comparison with our Managed Service, our Full Service includes the provision of all personnel including on-site supervisors and operators as well as plant and equipment such as water carts and graders.
Under a Full Service, clients contract the haul road maintenance program to Dust-A-Side and they enjoy the implementation of a QA process that delivers over 90% water consumption savings, safer roads and greater maintenance and operational cost efficiencies. Click here to read more about our haul road management services.
Full Service case study:
The chart below illustrates the significant water usage savings achieved at an Australian open-cut mine that implemented our Full Service offering across parts of their haul road network over a nine-month period of analysis.
Roads which were not being managed by Dust-A-Side were using an average of 850 litres of water per square metre per annum for dust suppression purposes. In comparison, roads which were being managed by Dust-A-Side were consuming only 34 litres of water per square metre per annum.
This equates to a 96% reduction in water usage on a like-for-like basis. This is an incredible result that can be replicated at other mines who are operating in drought ravaged areas.
Looking for ways to reduce water usage at your site? Talk to Dust-A-Side
Dust-A-Side is one of the largest providers of haul road and dust control management solutions to the mining industry in the world. We understand the challenges that mines face operating in remote areas and the need to adopt cost-efficient water saving solutions.