An assessment of dust generation from ores

Petavratzi, Evaggelia (2006) An assessment of dust generation from ores. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Dust from mining activities is produced from several unit operations and is often a serious problem to the industry, due to the influence it can have on human health and the safety record and productivity of a mine. So far, legislative parties and the industry have approached dust as an issue that needs to be controlled, only when a mining operation or process generates undesirable particulates. Nevertheless, new legislation and standards, such as the EU IPPC directive (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) and air quality strategies aim to drive mining companies to incorporate dust assessment planning that will be implemented through the whole life cycle of the mine. Mitigation and monitoring practices as well as health surveillance programs will need to be clearly defined.

This project’s purpose is to understand how mining processes and in particular how the mechanisms inherent within common unit operations (i.e transfer processes using haulage roads or conveyor belts, the tipping, loading and stockpiling process, the screening process etc) result in the generation of dust. If the operation of unit operations could by optimized to produce less dust, then a “fit-for-purpose” strategy for dust minimisation could be developed to follow exploitation, processing and production demand.

The literature on dust from mining operations identified that generation of fines/dust occurs due to the presence of the mechanisms of abrasion and impact. Based on this logic, an experimental methodology was developed, which aimed to assess how dust was generated for each different mechanism and for a variety of ores of different mineralogy. Five different ores were tested, a limestone, talc, an iron ore, a lamproite and a copper ore and the same experimental methodology was followed for each.

Experimentation using the HSE-WSL tumbling mill test determined that under the effect of abrasion, ores yielded higher dustiness values during longer tumbling times, whilst parameters such as the sample mass and the particle size distribution of the feed sample could also influence the dust generation patterns. The findings of the computational modelling (discreet element modelling) and experimentation (high speed video recording) suggested that control and optimisation of operational parameters (e.g mill velocity, or tumbling time) within processes that involve abrasion, such as the use of conveyor belts, mills, and screens could minimise the potential of dust generation by this mechanism.

The use of a novel impact test determined a positive relationship between the energy input and the particle size distributions of the broken particles, as well as the accumulation of fine particulates in the range of dust (<75μm). Also an increase in the bulk volume of ores resulted in larger quantities of fine particulates. These observations suggest that it is possible to reduce dust in processes that involve drop from heights and impaction (i.e transfer points in conveyor belts, tipping, loading) by adjusting the energy input and the bulk volume of ore at impact to as low a level possible.

Particle size analysis of the produced dust fractions were found to be material dependent and varied considerably for the different ores. Almost all materials produced significant amounts of ultra fine particles below 10μm and 2.5μm, both under impact and abrasion, which reveals the potential adverse impacts to the environment and human health. Quantitative mineralogical analysis using the mineral liberation analyser determined that the dust fraction presents a different composition to that of the ore. Comparison of the results collected for the five different ores using the HSE-WSL mill and the impact test identified that certain materials yielded high dust levels under abrasion and low under impact. Therefore it would be expected that dust control approaches for such materials would differ according to the mechanisms of the involved process and the mineralogy of the sample.

According to the findings of this study a reduction in dust produced from mining unit operations could be possible by optimising the involved processes either by altering their operating parameters (drop height during tipping, velocity of conveyor belt) or by optimising the design of processes so as to reduce abrasion or impact. New legislation such as the EU IPPC directive has already started considering such an approach as important, and newly developed Best Available Techniques documents refer to this as the primary step companies should follow to minimise dust. Additional advantages of this approach are that it can reduce cost for dust control by making use of less conventional mitigation practices, and in the long term it could also minimise the utilization of energy and water going to suppression, extraction and dust collection systems. In certain cases the proposed route could also optimise the production chain, especially where the generation of fines is undesirable (e.g iron ore processing or aggregates production).

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Kingman, S.
Lowndes, I.S.
Subjects: T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Item ID: 27945
Depositing User: Lashkova, Mrs Olga
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2014 13:16
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2017 10:09

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