This project will significantly reduce diesel exhaust exposure for the Olympic Dam workforce over the next five years. It will also eliminate the need to wear respirators, which are currently required to protect the health of the underground workforce.
As one of the largest underground copper mines in the world, Olympic Dam has around 800 underground miners and uses diesel equipment for development, production, ore handling and mine services.
The team initiated the project with the aim of reducing diesel particulate matter (DPM) exposure to the lowest level technically feasible, in accordance with BHP’s occupational exposure limit (OEL). Our DPM OEL is significantly more protective than any regulatory levels or known peer company requirements.
Key elements of the project include: using best-in-industry science to direct the project; fitting diesel particulate filters as an interim fleet solution; a vehicle replacement strategy with low emitting engine technologies; and mandating the use of respirators (as an interim protection before the project’s full effects are achieved). The project is having an impact, with average levels of exposure nearly three times lower by the end of 2016 compared with 2014, and employees reporting the air to be visibly cleaner. The technology and approach is critical to Olympic Dam’s long-term sustainability and reputation and is transferable within BHP and across the industry.