Creating Cost-Effective Dust Control Strategies

Mining processes and primary and secondary ore processing operations produce dust that remains in ambient air. Depending on the type of ore being extracted or processed, mining dust may contain particulates that are dangerous to human health.

Francois Chateauneuf
François Châteauneuf
Date  July 2020

To protect mine workers, local residents, and nearby structures, governments have implemented regulations that limit the concentrations of particulate matter that are permitted.

Dust and particulate control is a major concern for the mining and metallurgical industry. Companies have an obligation to control dust emissions in order to protect their workforce and local populations as well as the structures (paved and unpaved roads, buildings, parking lots) near their facilities. Investing in effective controls ensures they won’t be slapped with heavy fines for regulatory violations, protecting them at the same time from the considerable reputational damage that such violations can engender.

To control dust emissions, companies must install ventilation systems, water cannons and scrubbers. They also seek to adapt their work processes to reduce dust emissions. These efforts come at considerable cost. According to the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation, a water canon system costs between C$68 and C$81 per day and per acre to operate. During periods of high winds, this increases to C$272 per day per acre. Other control measures like scrubbers and dust walls also tend to be expensive.

Water truck

Close Water truck

Often, company dust management plans require them to measure particulate matter concentrations in the air. Sensors installed at ground level are not always well suited to estimating particulate emissions from extraction and manufacturing operations, which represents an additional challenge.

So why not opt for a precision instrument designed specifically to measure dust emissions reliably and accurately? This would enable mining and metallurgical companies to implement better mitigation strategies, save time and money, and most of all, have accurate data on their emissions.

INO has developed a 2D/3D mapping solution for particulate matter. Using LIDAR, our solution takes remote measurements to provide quasi-real-time data on the concentration of dust particles in the air. It affords a comprehensive picture of dust emissions in a given production situation to help businesses identify the most appropriate dust suppression methods. Using this technology, mineral and metallurgical companies can meet their regulatory obligations without having to install systems that are both too complex and too costly for their real needs.  

Our technology has already proven its merits in a real use case. Metallurgy and mining industry giant Rio Tinto rented our equipment to take measurements it needed to implement control measures.

 “We liked Aeromap’s 2D/3D mapping capabilities because they did not measure the concentration of particulate matter at a point, but  rather in the volume surveyed. In addition, the ability to perform measurements from a distance (several tens of metres) is a clear advantage from a safety perspective when measurements must be carried out in a heavy industrial environment that is highly coactive.”– Jonathan Bernier, Research Scientist, Chemist, M.Sc., Rio Tinto

If you too would like to use our solution or work with us to bring it to market, please feel free to contact me. INO helps Canadian companies develop and commercialize optics and photonics solutions that enable them to solve complex problems such as controlling dust emissions.

About the author

Francois Chateauneuf

François Châteauneuf

Entrepreneur in residence - Monitoring of Fugitive Dust Emissions

François Châteauneuf received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Laval University and his D.Sc. in Chemical Physics from the University of Paris-XI in 1997. After working in systems engineering for 8 years, he joined INO in 2006 where he managed the Environment Program and supervised development activities around elastic and spectroscopic LiDARs. François is currently an entrepreneur in residence at INO focusing on  the monitoring of fugitive dust emissions.

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