Dust control is a serious issue for mines around the world. The primary source of dust for mining operations comes from unpaved roads, amongst several other smaller sources. This dust poses a serious threat to the safety and environmental sustainability of the operation.
In many cases, mines use water alone to control dust. Even though it might seem like an easy solution, it’s a very costly one. As reported by our distributor and expert in mining water consumption, Ivan Heron of Eco Road Hero, a typical mining site can use one BILLION liters of water per year for dust control.
THE COSTS OF TREATING DUST WITH WATER
Even if the cost to procure water is relatively low in some cases, costs associated with hauling and dispensing the water are significant and ongoing. In addition, using water to treat dust also has consequences on communities and the environment.
The truth is water isn’t free. If mines want to be serious about reducing their operating costs AND reducing their environmental impact, they need to consider other alternatives to water for managing their dust problems. We can help with both!
Procurement Costs: The cost to procure water will vary depending on the climate. Usually, the drier the climate the higher the price of water – and unfortunately, the drier the climate, the more dust there will be. Drier climates will also bring higher rates of evaporation, which only perpetuates the problem.
In Australia, for example, it is reported that the cost of raw water (not suitable for drinking) is approximately US $385 per megalitre (one million litres) or up to $38,500 per megalitre for potable water. Even at the lowest cost of using raw water, a typical mine could be spending close to $400,000 on water procurement, or up to 40 million dollars if they are using treated water.
Water Application Costs: The largest cost of watering your roads is directly related to the fuel burned when applying the water to your roads. The water application can be anywhere from 5-10 times the water supply cost as this is heavily influenced by the water truck cycle time. Dispensing costs will consist of fuel, labour, and truck maintenance costs. Mines are spending millions of dollars applying water to roads. In many cases, they cannot even keep up with how fast the water evaporates and trucks are running all day, 24/7.
The Cost to communities: Water availability is often a constraint to mining. The nearby communities are often very sensitive to water usage for mining as this can deprive them of their livelihoods if too much is diverted away from agriculture and general living. Water is often one of the top three stakeholder concerns for miners.
The cost to the environment: With all of the above factors taken into consideration, the environment pays the highest price of all. When water is used to control dust on mining sites, a huge amount of fuel (often diesel) is used to run the watering trucks, thereby increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Based on annual water consumption of 1 billion litres a year, it is estimated that mines that use water for dust control could use up to 1 million litres of fuel per year during the water’s application to the roads.
REDUCING WATER CONSUMPTION WITH DUST/BLOKR
We are proud to offer one of the best solutions in haul and access road dust control on the market, our newly reformulated DUST/BLOKR®. This product has been engineered for both performance and cost-effectiveness and will revolutionize dust control in Mining. One application lasts for months and therefore dramatically reduces the need to be continually watering roads. The product is highly concentrated and mixed with water, but once applied and set up on the road surface, it will bind the materials together to form a dust-free barrier that does not require constant watering to control the dust. It can also be used on tailings piles.
REDUCING COSTS WITH DUST/BLOKR
When looking at the average size of an open-pit mine and what their annual water consumption is for dust control on haul roads, our team has found that DUST/BLOKR can reduce as much as 500 to 2000 megaliters of water annually. Alternatively, our expert in mining water consumption, Ivan, reports that a mine can save 40-60 megalitres per kilometer of haul road with DUST/BLOKR. When a mine is ready to get started, we can even provide them with a true cost savings analysis so they can see exactly how much they will save. We have distributors in every corner of the world who are waiting to help mines start building better haul roads.
We have seen the positive results of DUST/BLOKR on mining sites around the world. A recent example is a mine located high in the Andes mountains, where water is at a premium due to the high altitude and low humidity. After DUST/BLOKR was applied they reported a 85% savings in water. For an average mine, that would mean millions of dollars saved. Other success stories include the Lefa Gold Mine in Guinea, Africa where they reported significant tax savings related to water consumption. We were also able to help SMB Bauxite mine with roads that required watering 7-10 times per day.
THE TIME IS NOW
Mines simply cannot refute the fact that treating haul roads with water for dust control is not a long-term solution. This practice is being scrutinized within the industry, and will no longer be accepted in the future. In fact, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is placing a high priority on water stewardship that will only further discourage water-led dust control.
We know that DUST/BLOKR can provide a better bottom line in Mining. A mine’s water costs will be lower, they will spend less on fuel, labour, and truck maintenance – it really adds up! Mines will reduce their impact on the planet, and build better relations with surrounding communities. Everybody wins with DUST/BLOKR. There are many other opportunities for mines to save money by using our products. Find out more by downloading the ebook below.
You might also like this related post:
The Impact of Rolling Resistance
Cypher Environmental is a leading global environmental solution provider for dust control and road stabilization. With ESG (Environmental Social Governance) and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) principles at the core of every decision we make, we proudly boast the tag line, “Always do what’s right.”