How can mines increase production by making haul roads work more efficiently?
It’s an unavoidable reality of mining. Haul roads require constant watering to keep down wheel-generated dust. This is especially true of large open cut operations. It can become a constant challenge to keep haul roads maintained at an optimal level. If they deteriorate, even to a small degree, so does productivity.
Mine operators often accept that haul road maintenance and associated costs are just a part of the business. Thinking the easy (and often only) solution is to rely on water spraying, they invest heavily in a large water cart fleet to keep the roads free from dust.
However, water spraying on its own can create a whole new array of problems for mine managers.
The road wearing surface deteriorates over time due to constant watering. This can happen rapidly and lead to the compacted top layer of the wearing course – the fines and pavement material - washing away. This then exposes the larger, coarser rocks in the sub structures creating a serious problem.
Roads with poor shape or drainage attract further failures if watered excessively. The water sits on the roads, eventually seeping through the pavement and into the subbase structures, destabilising the road.
The time taken for graders to regularly remove fines and smooth out potholes, corrugation and rutting in haul roads leads to a reduction in productivity while driving up the mine’s maintenance opex.
It doesn’t end there. Haul roads will no doubt dry out again and need to be watered and eventually repaired again, and so the cycle of dust-water-repair-dust-water-repair continues.
Fortunately, there are more effective dust control solutions available for mine operators wanting to reduce road maintenance and make haul roads run more efficiently.
Specialised binders suppress dust, making haul roads more effective
The bottom line is haul roads perform more effectively if they can get to a state where they need less maintenance and the haul fleet has fewer interactions with water carts or graders. Fewer interactions with the maintenance plant means more haul cycles equalling greater mine productivity. As well, there’s the significant reduction in the cost of constant watering and subsequent road maintenance.
Instead of congesting haul roads with water carts continually spraying untreated water, mine managers could instead implement the use of specialised road binder products. Dust-A-Side’s patented DAS Product actively and dramatically reduces the amount of water needed for spraying haul roads.
These formulations are much more effective at suppressing dust than plain water and can reduce water usage by up to 90%.
Dust control products, usually supplied in a liquid form include sprays and treatments such as lignosulphonate binders, bitumen emulsions and synthetic polymers. The products are ready to dilute to the required application concentration on-site and deliver directly into water carts.
When applied correctly, and at the right intervals there is a significant reduction in the frequency of water spraying required. Rather than water carts running around the clock, mines using binder products can expect water carts to spray roads as little as once or twice per shift.
This blog and the video below explains more:
How do dust suppression binders work to improve productivity?
It’s really all about decreasing your haul-cycle time with the least amount of interruption.
Dust suppression binders simply bind the dust particles together on the road surface. Sprayed via the water cart, the water evaporates leaving the solid content of the product behind as it dries. This binds the soil particles together, sealing them onto the road surface.
When using bitumen emulsions and polymers, a water impermeable seal is formed so the roads remain clear of dust and mud through most weather conditions. If used over time the product prevents water ingress, helping to reduce road defects such as rutting, corrugations and potholes.
Without constant over-watering the haul road network becomes sturdier, requiring less maintenance. This equates to less interruptions and more hauls. The cost saving for the mine on grading, general surface repairs and road re-sheeting can be substantial.
Creating a stronger road network enables the mine to reduce its fleet size of water carts, even redeploying water cart operators to perform other, more high yielding activities.
Interested in finding out how your mine can run more efficiently with the simple addition of dust suppression products?
An engineer from the Dust-A-Side team will visit your site (at no cost) to conduct a technical consultation and preliminary dust report.
From there, our engineers will prepare a preliminary report, detailing recommendations, sand solutions to meet your needs as well as proposed next steps based on the size of your haul road network.
You’ll also receive figures on how soon the mine will break even by engaging our services and how much you will be likely to continue saving on operating costs.