AMSJ » Mine haul road safety optimised with company alliance

Mine haul road safety optimised with company alliance

Mine operators typically face a continuous struggle when trying to balance dust suppression and overwatering on mine haul roads.

However, to offer a solution a group of companies have united to help not only meet the requirements for environmental compliance, but aid mining companies in ensuring their haul roads are as safe and productive as possible.

The aptly named Haul Road Optimisation Alliance is made up of Australian Diversified Engineering, Proof Engineers, RoadSafety Training Services, and Reynolds Soil Technologies, and is providing innovative solutions to the many challenges mine operators face in controlling dust and road safety on site.

ADE general manager Clive Gray said recent audits of water trucks and road watering techniques at more than 30 mine sites have revealed that many water trucks are applying over 50 per cent more water than necessary, which can result in major safety issues, not to mention affect productivity.

“If an operation overwaters its haul roads in an attempt to battle dust, it creates the risk of an uncontrolled movement, when a vehicle is involved in a slide or rollover,” Mr Gray said.

“This can result in severe safety incidents as well as significantly reduce productivity on site by leaving haul roads closed for hours or even days.”

On a financial level, poor water usage can result in mine sites having to import water from external sources at very high costs, whilst poor road management and overwatering can result in increased road maintenance and mobile equipment maintenance.

Furthermore, if legislation is breached, mine sites can incur serious financial penalties. A mine operator can reap significant savings by consistently applying the correct amount of water to a haul road.

To determine how much water can safely be applied to a haul road, a company pioneered by former and current Police Forensic Crash Investigators, RoadSafety Training Services, has designed a surface friction protocol specifically for mine haul road networks.

The safety protocol, endorsed by the Queensland Mines Inspectorate, classifies mine haul roads using a Global Road Friction Risk Model to specify a safe water application rate, expressed as mm/m2, so that a minimum level of grip in the road is maintained after watering.

Working collaboratively with RoadSafety Training Services is Australian Diversified Engineering, developer of the revolutionary ECO Spray Premium, the first water truck spray system to use a defined input to achieve a measurable output, which allows operators to input a set rate expressed as mm/m2, the same format used by the Global Road Friction Risk Model.

By utilising the remote-operated ECO Spray Premium system, mine operators can ensure no water is wasted while still maintaining a safe level of friction on their haul roads, removing the guesswork from dust suppression and ensuring optimum productivity from every water truck.

Another factor that can significantly improve the capacity of the current water truck fleet is the addition of Reynolds Soil Technologies’ road stabilisation and dust suppressants- a complex polymer that assists to control dust even after the water has evaporated, resulting in more time between required spray cycles.

The final component of the Haul Road Optimisation Alliance is the new technology from Proof Engineers, a tool called the Proof Mobile Dust Monitor, which monitors wheel-generated dust in real time- one the largest contributors of fugitive dust on a mine site.

With worldwide experience and total data collection and reporting capabilities, the Alliance is able to manage various aspects of haul road safety, optimise dust management using dust suppression and road stabilisation products, provide real time monitoring, install automated water truck spray systems and remotely monitor water assets.

“Technological advancements continue to change the way the mining industry works, and haul roads are no exception to this trend,” says Mr Gray.

“By undertaking a broad review of haul road management, mine operators can gain greater knowledge of their operations, leading to more efficient haul roads and the ability to significantly improve productivity and revolutionise their road and dust management operations.”

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AMSJ April 2022