Dust Busters

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BHP Mt Arthur Coal has received the Industry Excellence Award at the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand (CASANZ) Innovation and Excellence in Air Quality Awards.

The awards were presented at the CASANZ conference in Queenstown, New Zealand which brings together delegates from a variety of disciplines within the air quality industry. The Industry Excellence Award is given to an organisation that is having a demonstrable effect improving air quality.

In the Upper Hunter, mines are subject to heavy scrutiny when it comes to high airborne particulate levels. In the ongoing drought conditions the visibility of dust is increasing at a noticeable rate.

Mt Arthur Coal has been working closely with regulators (DPIE and EPA), their community consultative committee and mine neighbours, to identify dust problems and find practical solutions. As a result the mine has developed a new Dust Control System using the latest technology. This system involves an extensive network of real-time dust and meteorological monitors, which trigger alerts via a Business Intelligence Platform when the risk of airborne particulates is high, enabling timely decision-making on site and rapid determination of dust sources. 

Kris Sheehan heads up Mt Arthur Coal’s Safety & Environment team and explains the benefits of the system.

“Firstly, it’s a simple system that is easy to operate. One of the main advantages we have seen is a marked increase in our effectiveness responding to dust issues. Our alerts are down by 80%. It’s accuracy and capability far exceed what we had before. It also provides much more detailed information such as dust path trajectory and determining where the dust is originating from,” says Kris.

“We also have a series of high-resolution cameras which reduce the response time of investigations. It’s a big site here and by using the cameras we can identify the problem quickly. With all this information we are in a much better position to implement the best controls rapidly.”

Kris says that BHP is looking to roll out the new system across other Australian sites, and is also sharing its advantages with neighbours Mount Pleasant and Bengalla, which continue to work with them on dust management. 

“What’s really great about receiving this award is that it recognises the joint efforts of many teams working together. I don’t think this award has ever gone to a mining company before, so we don’t just see it as a win for Mt Arthur Coal, we see it as a win for the industry.” says Kris proudly.

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