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Decreasing dust in Newman

Dust emissions at mine sites are not new, it’s something BHP has a long history of managing.

Mining activities which are known to cause dust include haul roads, loading and unloading activities, stockpiling activities, pit activities and wind erosion.

BHP’s team at Eastern Ridge in Newman has developed an innovative process which has significantly reduced dust emissions during the loading, crushing and handling phase of mining.

More specifically, the team has reduced dust produced at Ore Body 25 and our Ore Handling Plant.

The solution: spraying water on top and beneath ore profiles as they fall inside processing chutes and autonomously monitoring and managing ore moisture levels.

BHP Project Engineer Rommel Mejia has been leading this dust reduction project for the past three years and said his team was very proud of the results so far.

“It sounds simple, spray more water, but the issue is much more complex,” Rommel said.

“We know when ore is moist, it produces less dust. The challenge for us was finding the right way to penetrate ore with water while maintaining manageable ore moisture levels. Because if ore is too moist, it becomes sludge-like and can cause processing issues and subsequent delays in production. 

“We searched Australia-wide for dust solutions, but could not find any useful quantifiable data, so we had to think outside of the box.

“We want to be industry leaders in dust management. What we’ve done at Eastern Ridge is find a solution to decrease dust at one source. It’s a small, yet significant step in the right direction to limit dust emissions at our mine sites.”

Rommel and his team are now working to roll out their system to other BHP sites in the Pilbara.

Last year, the Shire of East Pilbara became the first local government to launch their own dust monitoring campaign. CEO Jeremy Edwards said he was interested to hear about the strategies BHP has in place to mitigate dust levels within the town.

“BHP regularly receive data from eight monitors around Newman and have a team of people dedicated to assisting in minimising any environmental impacts to the community.” Jeremy said.

For more information, click here (PDF 3.21MB)