With mine haul roads slowly being reopened again, now is the perfect time to reassess your dust control solutions.
Why you shouldn’t use water
The old fashioned way to suppress dust on mine haul roads was water — still a popular choice on many mines. This is not a sustainable practice. If you’re in a region of the world with a water shortage you will quickly use up your water allowance due to the frequency of re-application that is required. However, if you have an abundance of water and you need to do a lot of dewatering, there are substantial hidden costs of spraying water.
While your water cost might be “free,” you’re still paying for the fuel cost of your haul trucks, plus the wear-and-tear on your vehicles and tires. If you are in a warmer climate, using water on haul roads only lasts a short time. That means you will be frequently driving around, burning fuel, and creating greenhouse gases. So while the water may be cheap, the need to frequently re-apply it means that the fuel costs using water only are enormously using this method, on top of the substantial carbon footprint.
We created a spreadsheet that measures your fuel cost, the length and width of your road, how much water you are using, and how frequently you are watering your roads. It will generate a comparison to show the cost of using our product vs using water alone. This spreadsheet also calculates what your CO2 reductions would be — an important factor to remember in today’s climate. You are significantly reducing your greenhouse gas output with more parked vehicles! If you’re interested in finding out what the cost of using our product vs using water would be, contact us here.
Using too much water is detrimental to the use of your road. It creates erosion and can weaken the surface of your road.
Why you shouldn’t use salt
Likely the most prevalently used road dust control products worldwide, Magnesium Chloride (MgCl) and Calcium Chloride (CaCl) are very low in initial cost, which makes them so popular. However, more and more jurisdictions and mine sites are banning or limiting their use, due to the highly detrimental corrosive properties that road salts possess, making their widespread use a danger to local water bodies and nearby roadside vegetation.
This corrosiveness is obviously a major concern on a mine site due to the rust and other detrimental effects on haul trucks and other expensive equipment utilizing the treated haul roads. This is why non-corrosive alternatives are much more attractive these days, as the true cost of using road salts is now starting to come to light. In fact, DUST/BLOKR® meets the Boeing D6-17487 conformity, proving that it is non-corrosive and safe to use around their airplanes, so the same would apply to the safety implications of using the product around haul trucks.
Lastly, road salts are hygroscopic, meaning they attract moisture. It’s this moisture that keeps the road damp and reduces the dust. However, during and after rain events, roads treated with chloride-based products can attract and retain so much moisture that they become saturated and slippery. This is why mines using road salts on their haul roads cannot use it on ramps, as it creates too many safety concerns when the roads get wet.
DUST/BLOKR® treated roads will actually perform quite well in the rain. The product does not run-off, which is also an issue with road salts, and one of the main reasons why it’s environmental concerns are exasperated. However, DUST/BLOKR® will not only stay put in the rain, but also enhances the engineering properties of the roads to the point where they perform better when wet due to the improved California Bearing Ratio (CBR) and other enhanced engineering properties. In skid resistance testing (traction testing), DUST/BLOKR® treated roads performed better than roads with no treatment at all, as well as those treated with road salts. So no concerns whatsoever to use DUST/BLOKR® on ramps, as well as flat stretches for haul road dust control.
Why you shouldn’t use oil
Hydrocarbon based products also come with their own negative environmental impacts. Not only do oil and water not mix, creating harmful hydrocarbon contaminated run-off when it rains, but this fact also contributes to potential slippery conditions in wet weather. Therefore safety can also be a concern for hydrocarbon treated haul roads.
Beyond the environmental concerns, there are also human health risks, as some petroleum-based products may be carcinogenic, containing semi-volatile PAHs and VOCs (ADEC, 2008). DUST/BLOKR® offers a completely organic solution, and based on its all-natural ingredients, poses no risk to the environment or human/animal health risks whatsoever.
However, in terms of performance-based parameters, the major issue with hydrocarbon-based dust suppressants is the inability to penetrate the road base. Since it only sits up on top of the road surface, it creates a layer that encapsulates the dust. Since no penetration takes place, generally any repairs that happen result in the entire crust being removed to get access to the road below, meaning one needs to start from scratch again to rebuild the hydrocarbon base.
Whereas in contrast, DUST/BLOKR® penetrates the road surface, providing added stability and reducing road maintenance requirements (grading frequency). DUST/BLOKR® and water are compatible, so if some light maintenance needs to be done to a treated road, it can be done without losing 100% of the dust reductions, meaning it does not need to be applied full strength again after the maintenance work is complete, to get the same level of dust control thereafter.
Why you shouldn’t use wetting agents/surfactants.
Wetting agents help to reduce the surface tension of water, therefore in layman’s terms, the addition of wetting agents or surfactants allows for water to penetrate solids further. So in this case, penetrate the road further. Therefore the use of wetting agents in the water being applied for dust control means that the road will stay moist for longer, due to the added penetration. However, unfortunately even with the use of wetting agents in the water truck, roads still need to be watered several times per day, meaning there is still a great amount of fuel burned and greenhouse gases emitted daily. On the contrary, one application of DUST/BLOKR® lasts for months! In some cases due to the amount of fugitive dust generated at mine sites some light maintenance doses are needed from time to time, but the base coat derived from the initial heavy application will last for months if applied properly.
The other main issue with wetting agents is the very same one in which the product derives its efficacy — drawing water deeper into the road. If any of these surfactants used to control dust are still intact in the road when it rains, it will actually draw more water into the road, weakening the road surface and reducing the overall engineering properties of the base. This leads to potential increases in maintenance and loss of productivity in wet weather. DUST/BLOKR® actually helps to shed water and will result in a higher-performing road in wet weather, reducing grading frequency and downtime caused by rain.
None of these are sustainable or long-term options.
Why you should use DUST/BLOKR®
DUST/BLOKR® solutions are dust control products created to withstand heavy traffic on mine haul roads, and affordable enough to use as road dust suppressants on secondary roads for counties and municipalities with limited budgets. DUST/BLOKR® was originally designed to be a cost-effective alternative to road salts/chlorides for secondary road / municipal road dust control. However, due to all the reasons listed above, it has become an excellent alternative as a dust suppressant for haul roads. Some of the main benefits that excel the product as a premier alternative for haul road dust suppression are the following:
- Is non-corrosive and environmentally friendly – won’t cause rust on haul trucks
- Penetrates the road surface, and as a result:
- Does not run-off in the rain
- Provides better traction in wet weather
- Improves road engineering properties to the point where grading frequency is reduced
- Results are long term – one application can last for months
- As a result, huge fuel savings may result when compared to just using water or water and surfactants
- No adverse environmental impacts
DUST/BLOKR® comes in a highly concentrated form to match your dust control needs and save costs with economical shipping and long-lasting results. You can also use DUST/BLOKR® for erosion control of mine tailings and stockpiles, and other unpaved surfaces.
Contact us here to get DUST/BLOKR® on your site.