Environmental management company I-CAT Environmental Solutions continues to grow its market share in dust-suppression management and solutions, and intends to increase its market share in Africa this year.
It highlights that several opencast mining projects in Ghana, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho and Zambia are starting operations this year or are in the first phase of new operations.
These include Kansanshi – owned and operated by mining company Kansanshi Mining – and Mopani – owned by mining company ZCCM-IH (10%), mining giant Glencore (73.1%) and mining and metals company First Quantum Minerals (16.9%) – both in Zambia. Also noteworthy are gold mining companies Gold Fields Ghana and Wexford Goldfields’ mines in Ghana, the Letšeng diamond mine – owned by mining company Gem Diamonds – in Lesotho, as well as the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée mine – jointly owned by the government of Guinea and the Halco Mining consortium – and the Bel Air mine – owned by mineral exploration and development company Alufer Mining – both in Guinea, and the Frontier mine – owned by diversified natural resources company Eurasian Resources Group – in the DRC.
“We believe in direct marketing, cold canvasing by arranging meetings with the holding companies where possible and then meeting the relevant people at these mining operations on the ground,” explains I-CAT Environmental Solutions marketing director Lourens Jansen van Rensburg, adding that identifying the decision-makers is sometimes difficult, as they are not always the mine owners or environmental managers.
He further explains that I-CAT’s dust- suppression products are very effective and enthuses that the company record speaks for itself.
“High ambient dust levels make it difficult and dangerous to operate in opencast mines in most cases. Most road dust palliatives often experience problems in high rainfall areas as it leaches out of the roads and/or becomes slippery, which poses a new danger,” Jansen van Rensburg adds, enthusing that the company’s products are not only certified as environment friendly – thereby eliminating leaching dangers – but that the company’s constant research also ensures that products are adaptable to work effectively in any climatic conditions.
To combat the major challenge that high volumes of dust present, I-CAT offers a range of dust-suppression solutions that enable underground and opencast mining operations to increase the wellbeing of workers and the surrounding communities, as well as reduce pollution levels.
Jansen van Rensburg explains that underground mines generate dust by mechanical extraction, but that it is not released into the ambient air around mining operations.
“Opencast mines, [however], release dust through [their operations] directly into the atmosphere, as it cannot be contained, creating potential problems [for] communities surrounding the mine. “The only [solution] is to limit dust generation on roads and in other dust- generating activities like blasting, crushing and processing.”
He adds that I-CAT offers solutions in all of these areas.
Further, Jansen van Rensburg explains that dust generated from busy gravel roads often impacts on agricultural activities besides the quality of life of people living close to these roads.
“Poor dust control has many causes, from ineffective dust-suppression protocols to ambient climatic conditions.”
In many instances, operators use water as the only method of dust suppression, despite water being ineffective and costly in this regard, especially when sourced from municipal water providers, he adds.
“Using large quantities of water for dust suppression is often also contrary to water use licence conditions.”
Water use licence conditions stipulate the quantities and use of natural water resources, Jansen van Rensburg explains, and when water is used as a dust suppression tool, licence conditions are often contravened.
Dust emissions caused by surface mine activities – such as the transportation of mined material – are the most significant contributors to dust fallout, he points out. “Many study results indicate that as much as 93.3% of total dust emissions are caused by the transportation of mine material at opencast mines. “Such emissions generated by the haulage of mined material depend on the erodibility of the haulage road and the [activity] to which the haulage road is subjected.” He reiterates that dust can impact on the environment, health and safety, as well as lead to increased maintenance costs, owing to dust ingress, which, if left unattended, causes the failure of vehicles and machinery.
Unwanted production downtime, owing to low visibility or accidents, is also a consequence and can greatly impact on a mine’s bottom line, he adds. Visibility on opencast mine roads is also severely impaired by excessive road dust and is a major cause of on-site vehicle accidents.
“Dust-suppression management has become a science and is often overlooked in planning. The best way to mitigate dust is to isolate the major sources of airborne and fugitive dust fallout.”
Jansen van Rensburg notes that, in most instances, dust suppression is a condition of mining licences and should be addressed as early as possible.
I-CAT believes in continuous product improvement and development.
Jansen van Rensburg further notes that the I-CAT research department – in February 2017 – developed a method of emulsifying bitumen with a natural polymer, resulting in the improvement of the company’s natural binding agent, GreenBit – which is combined with an emulsified bituminous product to create a durable gravel road sealant – now more effective than traditional bitumen-based road sealants because of its natural active ingredient.
I-CAT also offers the opencast mining industry its standard RDC 20 product, a secondary haulage road dust palliative dubbed GreenGrip, which is a polymer-based dust palliative for semipermanent haulage roads and its low-pressure dry misting systems for processing plants.
The R-SDR retractable stockpile dust ring for stackers and stockpiling conveyors also forms part of the company’s product offering.
ISO 9001-certified I-CAT offers a complete dust-management service, with its division of environmental professionals consulting on compliance auditing, dust monitoring, licensing and environmental management planning.