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Dust mitigation done differently

By |  January 20, 2022
AMCAST and Domolif have been working in partnership in Chile to test bacteria as a dust suppressant. Photo: Domolif

AMCAST and Domolif have been working in partnership in Chile to test bacteria as a dust suppressant. Photo: Domolif

Dust is a problem aggregate operations everywhere are tasked with combating.

The solutions to the problem are vast. One of the more unique dust solutions, however, is bacteria.

Tomaso Veneroso, president and CEO of AMCAST, discussed bacteria as a dust suppressant during the Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s Operations, Health & Safety Seminar, which was held virtually this year due to the pandemic. The opportunities to utilize bacteria as a dust suppressant within operations are many, he says, with applications for stockpiles, above crushers and on haul roads.

What bacteria can do

In Chile, AMCAST has been working in partnership with Domolif, a biotech startup, to test the concept in mines. Bacteria has been especially effective in suppressing dust on haul roads, Veneroso says, after bagged product – which he compares to flour – is mixed with water and applied to roads via trucks.

The combination cuts down not only on the dust kicked up by vehicles but on the amount of water used to suppress dust, he says.

“You can save a lot of water,” Veneroso says. “You don’t need to irrigate the roads so frequently. Those bacteria with water are going to start to absorb very fast the surface dust on the mine road and create, essentially, a crust.”

Veneroso

Veneroso

And that crust, he adds, produces a more eco-friendly environment.

“The bacteria basically encapsulates these particles and, therefore, a new matrix on the bacteria is formed,” he says. “Imagine, for lack of better words, what a magnet does with steel or with magnetic substances. As a result, silica can be transformed in bigger particles avoiding air contamination.”

Bacteria’s effectiveness in the haul road application and others depends on a few factors, according to Veneroso.

“It depends on the particular dust you are generating,” he says. “It depends on the geology of your site. Typically, you reduce [dust] drastically – by 10 or 20 fold. Depending on the traffic, [the crust] can last days, weeks or sometimes months. It all depends on a certain site.”

Other findings

The concept is fairly new to North America, he adds, but it’s an effective approach to sustainable mining.

“It is not being used in Ontario,” says Veneroso, when asked during the OSSGA seminar about any use of bacteria as a dust suppressant within the province. “We are looking to find a ‘volunteer’ for testing of it because we believe Canada, very much like Chile, is one of the most beautiful natural environments in the world. We are open to applying this product in mining and quarries in Ontario.”

Veneroso also describes the use of bacteria as very safe.

“Bacteria can be used in a food processing technology,” he says. “Bacteria can do amazing transformation in the environment.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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