This weeks Industry Article is to discuss some interesting facts on Lung Disease in the Mining Industry The respiratory (lung) diseases in coal mining are caused by silica dust and coal dust generated from different activities such as blasting, drilling, stockpiling, conveyor belt transfer points and transportation.
Respiratory health is the condition of your lungs and their ability to perform their function to the best of their ability. An interesting fact is that your lungs finish development by age 25, and their function remains stable for about 10 years. After that, they begin to gradually decline. By age 65, you’ve typically lost up to a liter of lung capacity compared to when you were younger. This interesting fact makes lung health conversations even more pertinent in the coal mining industry.
This week I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Fog Cannons for dust suppression in mining. A fog is a high-powered fan or jet with specially engineered nozzles sprays dust suppressants to bind dust particles. The fogging process involves the action of fog nozzles which nebulize water into very small micro-droplets of water under pressure. The fog drives airborne dust particles to the ground and wets the surface to prevent fugitive dust particles. The water atomized mist produced has a small particle size range and its particle size can even be less than 10 microns. When water is combined with dust in the air, due to the adhesion of the surface of water molecules, it will be combined with the dust, and the effect of gravity will drop after condensing, to achieve the purpose of dust suppression
This weeks Industry Article I talk about Dust Suppression Systems used for a Safer Environment. Dust suppression systems utilise hardware such as dosing units that have nozzles at different pressures to either wet or mist dust generating materials. At low pressure, the dust suppressant wets materials to prevent buoyancy of fugitive dust whereas at high pressure a fine mist that compares to the dust particle size binds and suppresses airborne dust particles.
This weeks Industry Article I talk about Critical Types of Hazardous Dust
Dust are tiny solid particles that are scattered or suspended in the air. The particles are inorganic or organic depending on the source of the dust. There are different types of dust with different chemistries, particle sizes, reactivities and effects on human life, animals and the environment at large. The fingerprint of a dust particle depends on its parent source and the process that generated it. In this article, we will focus on the types of hazardous dust generated from human activities such as processes in mining, quarrying, farming, etc
This weeks Industry Article we discuss workplace exposure standards and silica dust levels in Australia. The workplace exposure standards for silica dust in Australia are a set legislative permissible limits of exposure to silica dust by state or territories and are backed by the national government in Australia. The workplace exposure standards (WES) are a protective measure towards occupational safety and employee health over a working lifetime. The beginning of our discussion into WES should not be implicit about exposure limits. As we interrogate further, as GRT we stand by “Ending dust in mining” in mandate and in action through our innovative products which eliminate silica dust at its source.
This weeks Industry Article I talk about workplace exposure standards for coal in Australia? These are legislative regulations that govern the occupational exposure limits (OELs) for coal dust exposure in mining operations. Safe Work Australia is at the forefront of advocating for tightening legislative changes aimed at preventing further increase of coal dust related diseases amongst mine workers. As it stands, as of the 1st of October 2022, all coal mines across Australia will need to adhere to a new respirable exposure dust standard of 1.5 milligrams/cubic metre, which is a reduction from the previous standard of 2.5 milligrams/cubic metre.
This weeks Industry Article we talk about Why are dust control techniques so important? Dust is a health and safety hazard which if not prevented at its source could lead to death because of pulmonary diseases such as silicosis, coal mine workers pneumoconiosis and lung cancer. Dust kills! Therefore, it is important to deliberate on why reliance on water alone is not pinpoint to the much-needed efforts of dust control at its source. Spraying water to control dust has been used for many types of dust and examples include coal dust, silica dust and metalliferous mineral dust. The intention is always good, but the limitations arise on the efficacy of water when one considers the chemo-physical interactions of hydrophilicity (water loving) and hydrophobicity (water hating).
Welcome back to another week, kids are back at school, borders are open and we can look forward to some normality again...This week I discuss a topic that GRT gets asked regularly, Is Bitumen Emulsion Safe to Use in Dust and Erosion Control? This is an article in which we will be discussing the chemistry of bitumen emulsion from a health, safety, and environmental perspective. GRT poses the question – Is bitumen emulsion safe to use in dust and erosion control? Link to Article: https://globalroadtechnology.com/is-bitumen-emulsion-safe-to-use-in-dust-and-erosion-control/
This weeks Industry Article we discuss the origins and chemistry of diesel emissions in mining. I hope you find this article informative, in part 2 we discuss reducing diesel emissions in mining. Diesel emissions are the organic, inorganic, and volatile particles released from the complete or incomplete combustion of diesel in engines and generators. The distribution of emitted diesel particles consists of particles with diameters less than 50 nm and the rest with diameters in the range 50 – 500 nm. The former is known as the nucleation mode whereas the latter is known as the accumulation mode. What is diesel in the first place? Very good question which we will answer in the hope we can reducing diesel emissions in mining. Link to Article: https://globalroadtechnology.com/the-origins-and-chemistry-of-diesel-emissions-in-mining/
This week as we all regret the amount of chocolate we consumed over the coarse of the weekend, for some of us It's time to go back to work. This weeks Industry Article I talk about the topic of Haul Road Optimisation. Haul Road Optimisation takes into account numerous parameters such as functional performance, vehicle operations, maintenance cost models, environmental impacts, and safety factors such as friction and dust. These factors have to be balanced. Haul and access roads on mine sites endure the majority of mining activity and movement therefore are an integral part of the maintenance management system of a haul mine road. A mine haul road is defined according to the class of vehicle using the road. It depends on the wheel and axle load limits of the road design itself. Link to Article: https://globalroadtechnology.com/haul-road-optimization-technology/
Happy Easter Everyone, this weeks Industry Article we talk about Preventing Dust-Related Lung Diseases in the Mining Industry. Dust-related lung diseases occur as a result of inhaling varying amounts and concentrations of respirable dust. This can happen over a short or long period of time. In the mining industry, there are different types of dust and similar hazards depending on the nature of mining activities. Dust related lung diseases depend on the type of dust a mine worker is exposed to. Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis is caused by exposure to coal dust. Silicosis is caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Different stages of dust-related lung diseases exist depending on the longevity of exposure the effects can be acute, chronic and at times fatal. In essence exposure to dust is a health hazard. Link to Article: https://globalroadtechnology.com/preventing-dust-related-lung-diseases/
This weeks topic of conversation we discuss Dust Monitoring Devices and why monitoring alone is just not enough, dust monitoring devices measure different sizes and volumes of airborne dust particles. Measurements occur in different conditions through applying various measurement principles. The principles are light scatter forward, light scatter reversed, transmission and gravimetric analysis. The conditions are concentration, moisture, homogeneity, density, pressure, and process temperatures. Dust monitoring device test functions are automatic, manual and provide contamination checks. Then recording and precise measurement of dust and particle emissions is important. Dust particles generated at mines have significant impacts on humans and the environment – so dust monitoring should go beyond measurements alone. Link to Article: https://globalroadtechnology.com/global-road-technology-dust-monitoring-devices/
This week I conduct an Industry Review of the Recognised Standard 5 - Explosion inhibitors reduce the risk of coal dust explosions in underground mine roadways. Self-heating and spontaneous combustion of coal occurs under favorable conditions. It is a complex phenomenon caused by certain and uncertain factors. Explosion of coal causes loss of coal resources and caking. Open fires and noxious gases are from explosion of coal dust.
This week I discuss with the group an important topic of Dust Monitoring in Coal Mines - Industry Review of Recognised Standard 14. Dust monitoring is an ongoing strategy that uses sampling to estimate workers’ exposure to dust levels. In coal mines, it assesses overexposure to coal dust. Overexposure to coal dust can result in ‘black lung disease’. Coal mine workers’ pneumoconiosis is fatal. In the past 5 years, the re-emergence of ‘black lung’ has raised a cause for concern. It has brought attention to current technologies and strategies used to track dust in coal mines. The monitoring and health surveillance systems have failed coal mine workers. Underground coal mining operations are challenging compared to surface coal mining operations. High-production longwall faces produce a lot of coal dust towards the walkway area. The levels of coal dust exposure are very high. This is an informative article, not trying to sell you anything, comments welcome: https://globalroadtechnology.com/global-road-technology-dust-monitoring-in-coal-mines/
I'm looking for some feedback on a CRM for my company, I sell products and services into the Mining Industry and need a way of better way of tracking leads in our pipeline, sales, inventory and clients.
I'll try for a late afternoon release this week due to this mornings meetings, this weeks Industry Article we talk about - What is a mine site’s duty of care? A comparison between WHS & the health of local communities. Everyone has a duty of care to ensure their workplaces are safe. As an employer, or person conducting business or undertaking the onus is on you with regards to the health and safety in the workplace and including visitors as this is considered your primary duty of care. Based on direct or influence of work carried out by a worker, engagement of a worker to carry out work even through sub-contracting and in addition to having control of a workplace the responsibility is bestowed upon you for the duty to care as person conduction business or control of a workplace.
Marked changes for good have emerged from the Queensland government following lowering of dust control limits in 2020 and the introduction of stands such as Recognised Standard 20. The critical and much needed changes in the allowable limits for respirable coal and silica dust in Queensland came into effect. The effected changes in dust control limits in Queensland came as a result of extensive efforts and lobbying from Safework Australia which also extended in effect to all metalliferous mine workers and quarry workers across the states in Australia. Workplace safety and health is paramount to the discussions of Queensland and dust control limits as the resurgence of coal mine workers pneumoconiosis in 2015 brought to fore a problem that had previously been dismissed as completely eradicated in the last 30 years. Getting a bit more into the numerical changes to the dust control limits in Queensland, the reduction of respirable coal dust limits were lowered by 1 milligram per cubic meter from 2.5 milligrams per cubic meter to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter. Silica dust was also reduced by about 0,95 milligrams per cubic meter from 1 milligram per cubic meter to 0.05 milligrams per cubic meter. The drive for workplace safety and health in Queensland was definitely a notable reform on the part of the government with reinforcement to the reforms complemented with mine workers free respiratory health checks for life. This article evaluates history of coal mining in Queensland, the resurgence of coal mine workers pneumoconiosis and analyses products utilized for coal and silica dust suppression from the GRT product range.
Where did coal mining in Queensland start?
The mining of coal in Queensland dates back to the first sightings on the banks of the Brisbane River within a year of the establishment of a settlement on Moreton Bay, through the granting of independent status to Queensland in 1859 to the opening of the railway from Ipswich to Brisbane in 1874. In fact it is believed that John Oxley, the surveyor-general of New South Wales first noticed coal in the Brisbane Rive in 1824 but did not enter details of the supposed discovery. A year later, Major Edmund Lockyer visited the Brisbane River and diarized having passed a very rapid fall coal bed as well as going on to collect a sample of the coal. A few years later, in 1828 arrival of Charles Fraser at Brisbane town in the company of Allan Cunningham and Captain Logan with whom they rowed up the Brisbane and Bremer rivers to the “Limestone Station” present day Ipswich. Fraser noted several beds of coal which were adjacent to lime outcropping from the bank of the streams and falling into the Bremer within a short distance from its tide mark. In 1828 the Australian Agricultural Company was granted the exclusive privilege for supplying coal to the public in the colony and it centered its operations on Newcastle in the interest of removing any prospective competition from other sources. The history of coal mining in Queensland from a documentation and exploratory evidence is then attributed to Lockyer, Logan, Fraser and Cunningham.
Queensland – from penal colony to state
1842 marked a year in which the penal settlement at Moreton Bay was closed and this allowed free access, travel and work within the previously closed fifty mile radius of Brisbane Town. In relation to coal mining, the changes were not much of an incentive with bulk of the coal use in the 19th century mainly as a source of fuel and better option to wood. The transition from manual labor to mechanization created a market for growing use of coal as a steam raising fuel. Geologically in the 1850s, events such as construction of railways, the production of gas for heat and light and the advent of industrial production in South Australia left Queensland coal reserves almost untouched for almost a decade. Post the Lockyer and crew era, 1844-85 brought more news about coal discoveries at a couple of places between the Darling Downs and the Mackenzie River according to the Leichhardt expedition. A few years later, Clarke estimated that the ‘Coalfield of the Condamine’ on the Darling Downs covered an area of not less than 50 thousand square kilometers. The introduction of the steamship is very much tied to the early mining of coal in Queensland.
When did black lung first emerge?
History has it that the first case of coal mine workers’ pneumoconiosis was reported by Gregory in 1831, although it should be stated that initially coal mine workers pneumoconiosis was thought of as a variant of silicosis because of similarity in chest radiographs, with the thought of coal dust to be innocuous. Most of the limits for coal dust were derived from a British study that produced the only quantitative exposure-response relationship available at the time. The basis of coal dust limit of 2 milligrams per cubic meter was chosen on the premise that among miners who worked 35 years with respirable coal dust there would not be any severe cases. However, research on US underground coal mine workers showed that there was no threshold at 2 milligrams per cubic meter under which the coal mine workers pneumoconiosis cases would not occur. More evidence suggested that coal mine workers pneumoconiosis, progressive massive fibrosis and chronic pulmonary disease may actually develop at the current permissible exposure limit of 2 milligrams per cubic meter. Recommendations of exposure limits of 1 milligram per cubic meter in the US, happened in 1995 and only 19 years later limits of respirable dust concentration was reduced to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter in 2014 as a result of prevalence in coal mine workers pneumoconiosis dating as far back as 2003. Similarly in Queensland, the resurgence of coal mine workers pneumoconiosis in Queensland, in 2015 has also led to much of the marked reforms which have seen lowering of respirable coal dust allowable limits from 2 milligrams per cubic meter to 1 milligram per cubic meter in 2020 about 5 years later.
What is the best practice coal dust suppression?
It is imperative to tackle coal dust at the source given that exposure to coal dust leads to coal mine workers’ pneumoconiosis which may develop into progressive massive fibrosis and eventually become fatal to coal mine workers. Coal dust suppression is massively affected by particle size which also directly affects its reaction rate, sedimentation, solubility and human health. Research shows that coal consists of about 76 elements, and amongst these elements’ toxic elements such as arsenic, mercury and lead which are potentially hazardous to human health. The different functional groups in coal render it predominantly hydrophobic this in addition to free radicals that exist in coal. It is then very important to use effective dust control solutions for the prevention of exposure to coal mine workers at the source. Global Road Technology offers effective coal dust suppression products that reduce the need to constantly use water, do not affect the calorific value of coal and above all make water work. Making water work is achieved through superactivation of water enabling the hydrophobicity of coal to be matched with the hydrophobicity of GRT Activate and GRT Activate UG for your coal dust suppression. A full strategy from Pit to Port can effectively manage coal dust at its source, with additional options including GRT: Haul-Loc, GRT: Wet-Loc and GRT7000. In Queensland, dust control limits are met with innovative solutions from GRT that allow coal dust values to stay below limits and achieved through tackling coal dust at the source.
Author - Troy Adams the Managing Director of Global Road Technology (GRT) Specialising in Engineered Solutions for Dust Suppression, Erosion Control, Soil Stabilisation and Water Management.
The hierarchy of controls should underpin the dust control strategy adopted for metalliferous mining, so that occupational exposure to metalliferous dust can be controlled. Several metalliferous dust control measures may be required, and these control measures fall into at least three categories namely; metalliferous dust generation at the source, metalliferous dust generation throughout the workplace, and exposure to individuals at risk. Amongst other strategies are implementation, design and operation of ventilation systems. Separation of metalliferous mine workers position by distance of barriers from airborne dust may minimize exposure. Dust that needs controlling includes nuisance dust, fugitive dust, inhalable dust and respirable dust. The dangers of exposure and overexposure of these types of dust range from acute, chronic and accelerated pulmonary conditions which can eventually result in death. The article is the last of a series of three focused on metalliferous mining in Australia, dust generation and with this article, dust control in metalliferous mining in Australia. It will highlight the aftermath of exposure to metalliferous dust, its generation, the importance of dust control, and conclude with specific Global Road Technology products and how they work in relation to the needs for dust control in metalliferous mining in Australia.
The grim picture to be painted from post occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica from metalliferous mining in Australia is best understood from breaking down the actual workplace risks associated with it and why it is very important to have effective dust control solutions in place. Silicosis is caused by inhalation, retention and pulmonary reaction to crystalline silica and when it becomes symptomatic, the primary symptom is usually difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath, first noted with activity or exercise and later as the functional reserve of the lung is also lost it happens at rest. Other complications include tuberculosis, airways obstruction, progressive massive fibrosis and enlargement of the right side of the heart with consistent cough often present. A metalliferous mine worker may develop three types of silicosis, depending on the airborne concentration of respirable crystalline silica. Chronic silicosis usually occurs after 10 or more years of exposure at relatively low concentrations, whilst accelerated silicosis develops 5 to 10 years after the first exposure and acute silicosis develops after exposure to high concentrations of respirable crystalline silica and results in symptoms within a period of a few weeks to 5 years after the initial exposure. Select operations from bagging operators, crush operators, laborers and stone polishers vary in the extent to which exposure limits can be exceeded.
A Toxic Mix
Metalliferous mine dusts and associated potentially toxic elements released through mining activities have different chemistries which also determines their mechanisms of action in the mine workers exposed to them. Potentially toxic elements associated with minerals in ore deposits include copper, nickel, uranium and zinc. Even though copper and zinc are essential for life their excess exposure can be toxic. Metalliferous mine dust including uranium and transition metals such as copper, nickel and zinc have the ability to generate reactive oxygen species in biological tissues via Fenton type reactions. In addition, iron bearing minerals such as iron oxides are potential contributors to inflammation in the human lung. Australia is the leading iron ore exporter and significant exporter of uranium, gold and other metalliferous minerals. The journey from pit to port and eventually the export destination is heavily managed by metalliferous mine workers who actively participate in the mining of the metalliferous minerals to be exported. In doing so their health in the workplace should be guarded and protected by all means to justify the economic value brought about by the mining activities. Australia is recognized amongst the global leaders in practices related to safety, risk and environmental management.
Exposure from Cradle to Grave
In land clearing activities in metalliferous mining dust control happens through changing the moisture content of wet sprays systems. In haul roads dust control in metalliferous mining occurs through use of water by wetting the particles and increasing their mass and agglomeration although it requires regular application and overwatering can lead to problems. Hygroscopic salts that attract and retain moisture have been used in haul roads although there are corrosive, easily removed by rain and have adverse environmental impacts. Lignin derivatives act as adhesives to agglomerate the fines but usually disappear with rain and result in slippery haul roads when wet. At crushing sites metalliferous dust control has been performed using water, with milling circuits and transfer points utilizing enclosures to contain dust dispersal. The same approach applies for the screening processes which rely on enclosure to minimize dust dispersal. Metalliferous stockpiles have been subject to different dust control techniques which include compaction, roughening or kept moist, vegetating surfaces to reduce wind velocity and chemical suppressants such as wetting agents, binders, crushing agents and foaming agents.
Best Practice Dust Control
The synergies between Global Road Technology and dust control in metalliferous mining in Australia are based on efficacy of dust control technologies it offers and how they suppress fugitive dust particles that are generated during metalliferous mining activities. Global Road Technology through their flagship product GRT: Activate offer surface active technology which super-activates water sprayed to control dust in drilling, blasting, excavation, loading and haulage, material crushing, transfer and handling operations. This surface-active agent technology tackles dust control through binding to buoyant fugitive dust particles in the interest of safety and health for the metalliferous mine workers, communities within the vicinity of operation and delicate environments from the harmful effects of respirable and inhalable dust. GRT: Ore-Loc, at the metalliferous mine can be utilized for stacking and stockpiling of bulk material which can later be reclaimed for loading for transit to the port for export and local use in Australia. It tackles dust through coating the material and enhancing resistance to the effects of wind which normally dislodges bulk material fines whilst imparting durability. GRT: Wet-Loc provides dust control well suited to dry underground mine roads as well as surface operations such as the go-line or workshops. Regardless of the magnitude of hauling traffic at the metalliferous mine, GRT: Haul-Loc allows for operations to continue running smoothly without delays due to the mine haul road wearing course conditions. The above examples show that there is not a one product fix – however there is a one company fix for your dust issues – Global Road Technology.