The copper mines in Zambia are a boon for the country. But the dust that is generated in and around the mines can have widespread impacts on the health of workers and the environment. Dust can also substantially reduce the lifespan of machinery.
“Dust is a big problem in towns that have developed around Zambia’s big copper mines, as tipper trucks loaded with ore move in and out of the mines all the time. This kicks up the dust and blows it across town,” says Chris Smit, director of I-CAT Zambia, which is working to control dust on the Kansanshi Mine near Zambia’s Northwest capital of Solwezi.
Blasting, drilling, dumping and loading are also major contributors to dust.
Although water is the most commonly used dust suppressant, its effectiveness is limited.
“Once sprayed, water evaporates very quickly and the dust is again released into the environment. You need to replenish water constantly. This wastes time, money and precious water resources,” says Smit.
Buoyed by increasingly stringent environmental legislation, environmental solutions company, I-CAT, foresees opportunities in mining areas across Africa.
“Dust is a pervasive problem. It can also damage even the most sophisticated equipment and technology. It is therefore imperative to effectively control dust on a continuous basis with objectives that reach far beyond legislative compliance,” says Jan du Plessis, non-executive director professor for Pretoria-based environmental solutions company, I-CAT.
I-CAT has developed various products to counter the dust, including RDC 20, a water soluble polymer. It is formula of blended emulsified co-polymers and iconic modifiers. The matrix binds fine soil particles into larger heavier particles, which are less prone to becoming airborne. RDC20 is used on temporary roads, as it is a cost effective option.
Du Plessis says it has proved to be a great success in the company’s work in South Africa’s Northern Cape (NOMVELO – PLEASE COULD YOU MENTION WHICH COMPANY OR MINE OR WHERE IN THE NORTHERN CAPE), where the overall ambient dust has improved by more than 40 percent, based on readings on the mine prior to I-CAT managing the secondary roads.
I-CAT also uses its portable ‘Dust Monster’ range of machinery which minimizes the effects of dust by creating an ultra-fine mist that attracts dust and encapsulates the airborne particles, before driving them to the ground.
For semi-permanent gravel roads on mines and in residential areas, I-CAT has developed GreenGrip, a natural polymer based gravel road sealant.