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How can your mine increase productivity in the wet season?

Haul Road Wet Season

Australia’s wet season can present challenges to even the best run mining site. While staff and expensive machinery sit idle waiting for the weather to pass, visibility to improve and haul roads to be repaired, both productivity and profits suffer.

Whilst there’s not a lot you can do during adverse weather conditions it’s a different story once the skies have cleared. The recovery period can vary greatly depending on the strategy adopted in the post rain clean-up period.

On most mine sites, when the downpour ends the graders come out to grade the muddy mess off the top of the haul roads in an attempt to dry them out to prepare them for safe use again.

There are five main problems with this approach:

  1. The mine loses even more production time
  2. The grader destroys much of the road surface material
  3. The haul roads must be rebuilt once the materials are dry
  4. Additional work may need to be undertaken such as cleaning out drains
  5. Materials that have washed away have to be replenished

Each problem takes time and costs money – neither is a good outcome for the mine.

Delays and costs can both be minimised with a little forward planning. After all, the next wet season will always come around. If you prepare in advance, you can greatly decrease downtime, creating a more efficient process for future weather events.

A more stable haul road leads to a faster recovery time

During a substantial rain event, the water can pool and be absorbed into the road. This can happen quite quickly and lead to the compacted top layer of the wearing course – the fines and pavement material - washing away and exposing the larger, coarser rocks in the sub structures. 

Not the ideal surface for road haulage!

Dust-A-Side Australia’s DAS Product has been successfully applied to haul roads, secondary roadways, hardstands, and laydown areas in mines around the world for over four decades. 

DAS Product is an emulsion of bitumen in water, specifically designed and formulated to physically bind road materials together to suppress dust in dry weather and dry substantially faster after wet weather than unsealed roads.

After application the surface water is shed, rather than pooling or being absorbed. This makes for a faster wet weather recovery time.

Along with application of the DAS Product, Dust-A-Side recommends road camber to ensure that water is shed from the surface to the edges of the road, as well as sufficient drainage to get the water away from the sides of the road and prevent it from soaking back into the sub layers of the pavement.

These services are included in Dust-A-Side’s Haulroad Management System

Waterproofing roads improves efficiency – whatever the season

Whether it’s minimising the damage to roads in the wet season or reducing the need for water carts on the road in the dry season, waterproofing makes sense. Waterproofing your mine roads will decrease downtime and increase productivity after the rain as well as reducing on-going haul road maintenance costs compared to unsealed roads.

You can greatly reduce the washout of fines and good quality wearing course material, as well as the ingress of water into the sub layers of the pavement. You’ll find there are fewer soft spots and potholes in your roads, which means less maintenance and more time for hauling.

It’s really all about decreasing your haul-cycle time with the least amount of interruption – all year round.

Here’s what some of our customers have to say:

“We can start up 20 – 60 minutes after the average rain event on Dust-A-Side roads with production at about 50% of capacity and 100% capacity when the non Dust-A-Side roads are graded or dried adequately. The recovery time difference between Dust-A-Side and non Dust-A-Side roads is around 1.3 to 1.8 hours as it takes longer for non Dust-A-Side roads to dry to a point where they can be graded/re-sheeted.”

- Mining Manager, Anglo American

“Dust-A-Side roads offer a huge benefit during heavy rainstorms as these roads stand up well to wet conditions allowing less production disruptions as a result of inclement weather.”

- Head of Production, BHP Billiton Group

“In general, the main haul road is trafficable sooner after rain events. A 144mm rain event post Dust-A-Side had a 24-hour recovery versus a pre Dust-A-Side 150mm rain event for 80 hours recovery.”

- Technical Services, Anglo American

“After rain events, Dust-A-Side surfaces dry faster than untreated surfaces providing a higher level of surface friction more quickly.”

- Managing Director, Road Safety Training Services

For more information on how to utilise road management to increase the productivity and efficiency of your mine during the wet season (or any season) call 1800 662 387 and speak to one of our experienced engineers, or simply click here to contact us.