Fugitive dust emissions can be one of the most visible and contentious issues facing the mining industry, but operators have a number of options available for combating the problem, including physical, chemical and mechanical systems. Recent developments illustrate how the dust-control arsenal is expanding to take advantage of new technological capabilities, and how more conventional solutions can still be highly effective in specific applications. For example, General Electric Corp.’s Power & Water Technologies business group reports that the La Coipa gold mine, operated by Kinross Gold subsidiary Compania Minera Mantos de Oro in arid northern Chile, has been able to reduce the amount of water used for dust control by nearly two thirds while simultaneously reducing dust emissions by more than half, using a GE dust control product called DusTreat DC9112. As a result, the mine conserves some 12 million gallons of water annually, reducing the impact in a highly water-stressed area of Chile. The company also reduced operating expenses by $54,000 and improved overall safety conditions.

GE said it offers the mining industry a wide range of solutions to solve water challenges in mining applications, including dust control, pure water systems, BWRO/SWRO systems, process additives, cooling treatment, clarification and filtration, wastewater treatment, zero liquid discharge and boiler treatment. GE awarded Compania Minera Mantos de Oro an ecomagination Leadership Award to recognize the company for its reductions in water consumption and fugitive dust emissions at Kinross-La Coipa. The award, explained GE, is given to a select few water and process technologies customers that demonstrate significant environmental and economical performance improvements.

At La Coipa, dust-prone haul roads are first graded and conditioned. Water trucks then apply a solution of water and DusTreat DC9112. Once the product has cured, according to GE, it renders road surfaces hard, dust-free and non-slippery for an extended period. On an ongoing basis, as trucks travel the roads and create new dust, and eventually spill dusty material on the surface, all that is necessary is a light watering to rejuvenate the product.

GE describes DusTreat DC9112 as an organic, biodegradable liquid blend that does not contain chloride compounds or waste oils. It is available in a wide variety of customized containers and delivery methods.

In the mechanical solutions sector, Peoria, Illinois, USA-based Dust Control Technology recently announced that it has joined with SMI Evaporative Solutions, Midland, Michigan, USA, to design and manufacture advanced dust-control automation systems for use with its DustBoss water-misting dust suppression equipment. Dust Control Technology’s most recent product is the DB-M system, developed for velocity-sensitive applications to deal with very light-weight dust particles. The DB-M creates a cloud of atomized water droplets without using a fan that would contribute unwanted turbulence. The standard design is a 15-ft pole mount featuring a series of 14 nozzles, with water pressure delivered by an onboard 10-hp booster pump. The company said the DB-M was designed to include customization capabilities for specific operating conditions and particle behaviors.

Dust Control Technology also offers the DB-30, -45 and 60 skid- or wheel-mounted, electric-powered water misters, the DB-H hydraulic powered mister  and other custom dust-control systems.

SMI, a supplier of ducted misting systems and high-density, low-velocity evaporators, offers standard and customized software packages. The business combination, according to the two partners, will give users unprecedented data capture and control over large-scale dust abatement.

Managed by proprietary software, these “intelligent” systems can be programmed to manage start/stop cycles based on dust monitor readings, motion sensors, weather input or operator remote control.  The technology allows users of DustBoss equipment to automatically adjust elevation, oscillation range and other features on any number of machines to improve suppression performance and free up manpower for other tasks.

Designed to deliver greater control and efficiency to dust management systems in bulk material handling operations, these advanced systems are claimed to give users the capability to efficiently track wind direction, speed, temperature, humidity and even visible emissions data. The automated networks can be programmed to factor any or all of those elements together and determine what combination of conditions will trigger specific system responses.

SMI and DCT said they have been collaborating on the design and construction of particle suppression systems since Dust Control Technology was founded in 2004.  SMI Evaporative Solutions provides high quality, energy-efficient water management products and services to a variety of industries, such as mining, oil and gas, and municipal water treatment.  The firm specializes in water fracturing and fan atomization equipment.

“Adding automation technology to our product line brings a new dimension to dust management,” said Dust Control Technology CEO Edwin Peterson. “Now customers with large-scale operations involving many units can exert a level of monitoring and control that would require an entire staff of operators to achieve manually.”

SMI President Joe VanderKelen said, “We made a conscious decision over the last decade or so, investing heavily in automation and software. Technology has now advanced so much that we saw an opportunity to take dust management to the next level. Our automation today is far superior to what was available just a few years ago, and it can be custom-tailored to suit very specific applications. We see it as a way to help our customers improve suppression efficiency and control labor costs.”