Mine site dust collection - what is it and how is it different to dust suppression and dust prevention?


The topics of dust suppression and dust prevention often dominate the space of dust control in mining and industrial environments. However, there is another alternative when neither suppression or prevention measures are practical or ideal to implement.

Dust collection involves the use of a dust extraction system (AKA a dust vacuum) to collect dust from drilling operations using a large liquid ring vacuum pump. The incoming air and dust mixture is separated by means of a large collection hopper acting as a cyclonic separator and later a series of bag filters.

Such extraction systems are ideal for use in a variety of situations. For example:

When moisture of any kind can’t be used for dust suppression or dust prevention purposes: This is particularly prevalent in the case of diamond mining because kimberlite swells when moisture is added to it. Therefore a high or low pressure watering system can’t be used to control dust from drilling activities, otherwise the swollen kimberlite will “bite” the drill components and break them.

When dust emitted from extraction activities contains particles of valuable raw metals e.g. platinum: Dust vacuums allow for such particles to be collected in a batch or continuous system. The collected dust, along with the particles, can then be further refined and recovered. In some cases, a binding agent (such as Dust-A-Side’s HydroPlus) can be added to the collected dust to enable storage, ready for further refining. The addition of HydroPlus facilitates the formation of pellets in the collection hopper. The pellets are hard enough to survive discharge and further handling without becoming dust sources later in the process.

Dust_Vacuum_Discharge_MaterialDust vacuum discharge material 

When water scarcity is an issue: Whilst Dust-A-Side’s dust suppression systems use very low amounts of water at a high pressure, many mines in South Africa still employ wasteful dust prevention techniques. This usually takes the form of saturating haul road or raw materials with water at a low pressure in order to prevent dust from becoming airborne. A dust collection system however requires no water and can therefore be a viable alternative - depending on the operation.

When air classifiers are in use: Air classifiers are commonly required at transfer points in order to monitor air quality. Many classifiers must operate in a moisture-free environment, limiting the ability to rely on watering systems for dust control. Once again, a dust extraction system can be a viable alternative. 

How to ensure a dust extraction system works as effectively as possible

There are many dust vacuums available on the market. But it’s important to be aware that not all are the same in terms of functionality and quality. A machine that works for sand in the cement industry will not be effective on the site of a diamond mine due to the differences in particle sizes and behaviour. 

Something to keep in mind is that one size does not fit all. The purchase and installation of an extraction system should be overseen by a team of engineers. There needs to be careful planning and discussion about the specific site and project in order to set up the right system for maximum efficiency.

Consider the inherent differences between above ground and underground mining. Altitude makes a significant difference to the way dust behaves. An extraction system needs to be calibrated to ensure correct air flow at the duty points.

Experts in dust collection will evaluate factors such as how far the recovery point will be from the machine, how the depth of the mining/drilling activity will affect the viability of the project as well as the size of the particles being collected. From there, the best extraction machine for the job can be selected, installed and regularly maintained on an ongoing basis. 

Interested in learning more about dust collection solutions? 

Operating since 1973, Dust-A-Side is an experienced supplier to mining operations in South Africa and across the world.

We are a major manufacturer and distributor of dust palliatives products, diagnostics tools and material handling solutions to the mining and related industries in Southern Africa. 

Doing business with Dust-A-Side gives our customers peace of mind because they deal with trained and experienced dust control experts who understand how mines operate including working safely on-site. 

To request a no obligation technical consultation and dust report, simply click here.

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