Revolutionizing Bauxite Mining: SMB’s Environmentally Friendly Road Stabilization Solution

The Société Minière de Boké (SMB) bauxite mine in Guinea is Africa’s premier bauxite producer, injecting an estimated 600 million USD into the region’s development in 2018 alone. The scale of the operation saw over 80,000 tons of ore transported daily with haul roads being used by up to 5000 vehicles (weighing between 60 – 90 tons) per day. With the constant heavy traffic, SMB needed a road management solution that would alleviate their road challenges with dust during dry spells as well as stabilize their roads during the wet season. Above all, they were looking for products that could perform while minimizing the mine’s impact on the surrounding communities and the environment.

This article will cover:

  • the challenges experienced on the mine’s haul roads
  • how Cypher’s products aligned with the mine’s needs
  • the results of the trial application


SMB Bauxite Mine in Guinea, Africa

Boasting the world’s largest bauxite reserves, it is no surprise that Société Minière de Boké (SMB) stands as Africa’s premier bauxite producer and one of the world’s foremost exporters of this invaluable ore.

Comprised of four international partners specializing in bauxite mining, production, and transportation, the SMB Winning Consortium plays a pivotal role in Guinea’s economic and social development, injecting an estimated 600 million USD into the region’s development in 2018 alone. However, given the scale of the mining operation, it was a monumental task to manage the mine’s haul roads, which were being used by up to 5000 vehicles per day.


Mine Haul Road Challenges: Dust, Stability and Environmental Impact

Navigating heavily trafficked roads amid Guinea’s harsh weather conditions posed many risks and challenges for both on-site employees and the local communities nearby. Over 80,000 tons of ore was transported daily, with an average of 3 haul trucks weighing between 60 – 90 tons passing by every minute, the sheer volume of traffic exacerbated the issue of airborne dust, particularly hazardous during the region’s arid summers.

The excess dust caused by heavy traffic not only impaired visibility, it also posed a significant safety hazard for mine employees and motorists alike, while jeopardizing the health of nearby communities and surrounding vegetation. To mitigate these risks, the traditional approach involved frequent watering of the roads—up to 10 times a day with a fleet of more than 80 water trucks and 300 drivers on sunny days —resulting in exorbitant maintenance costs.

Beyond dust, the region also experienced other road challenges including a long wet season. The red soil on the road is highly susceptible to erosion during heavy rainfall, posing a significant threat to the ecological balance of the nearby rivers. With Guinea experiencing over 3,000 mm of annual precipitation, the clay roads suffer extensive damage, becoming slippery and presenting hazardous driving conditions. Moreover, the frequent downpours often resulted in heavy machinery sinking into the softened road surface, leading to safety issues, delays, and substantial expenses for road and vehicle repairs. To combat these challenges, SMB had to mobilize a workforce of 90 people and 40 vehicles daily along the 41 km stretch of road from the mine to the Guangyi Port area, ensuring the continual upkeep of this stretch of high intensity thoroughfare.


SMB Haul Road Management


Finding a Sustainable and Economical Solution with Cypher Environmental

In 2018, the SMB Bauxite mine sought an environmentally friendly road management solution to alleviate its dust challenge. A trial road application was conducted with Cypher’s DUST/BLOKR® and ROAD//STABILIZR® products, and orchestrated by Cypher’s distributor in China, RoadPlus. A stretch of 20 km of road between the mine and the port was treated.

While Cypher Environmental’s products met many of SMB’s practical road requirements (including cost savings and increased efficiency), it was the eco friendly nature of our products that SMB prioritized. Recognizing the importance of minimizing the mine’s impact on the surrounding communities, the SMB bauxite mine found Cypher’s products to align well with their commitment to sustainable practices,  community welfare and environmental stewardship.


SMB Bauxite Mine Soil Stabilization


A Success Trial with Favorable Results

Following the successful treatment of the trial road with Cypher’s DUST/BLOKR® and ROAD//STABILIZR®, the mine designed a test simulation of 30mm of rainfall daily over a two-week period. Despite the simulated rainfall, the heavy traffic continued using the trial road with little to no damage to the vehicles while increasing the mine’s productivity. 

The results were transformative. Following this successful trial, SMB committed to stabilizing an additional 20km of road using Cypher’s road management solutions. Leveraging different applications tailored to Guinea’s extreme weather conditions, the collaboration not only curtailed dust emissions but also bolstered road quality, fostering increased productivity and safer road conditions for all.


SMB Bauxite Mine haul road dust control


In confronting the challenges posed by two very extreme weather conditions (wet season & dry spells), Cypher Environmental adeptly employed tailored combined application of DUST/BLOKR® and ROAD//STABILIZR® to fortify the road infrastructure, transforming it into an expanded and robust thoroughfare. This innovative approach not only prioritized environmental sustainability but also yielded high-performing roads that increased productivity while suppressing airborne dust emissions. 

SMB experienced a substantial uptick in productivity, alongside significant reductions in maintenance (fleet management, water consumption, fuel consumption, personnel) costs. The local community also benefited from the noticeable transformation as trees lining the road were no longer shrouded in red dust, restoring the environment to its pristine condition.


SMB Bauxite Mining Haul Road After Road Stabilization


During both wet and dry seasons, there are fewer environmental and health issues for the community.  Mine production has increased, and SMB has also experienced a reduction in their overall operational expense.

If you would like to learn more about this project or how Cypher’s products can help you manage your road assets, contact us here.



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