In 2019, several innovative dust management solutions were implemented at our Elkview Operations (EVO). One of these solutions involved “capping” and re-vegetating parts of EVO’s Natal waste rock dump using aerial seeding. This new approach has greatly reduced fugitive dust, which is dust that becomes airborne due to wind or blasting.
Natal and the Fugitive Dust Challenge
The Natal Phase II waste rock dump at EVO was historically a challenging site for dust mitigation, as wind erosion can lead to fugitive dust generation at Natal.
After evaluating and testing a number of potential solutions, the team at EVO re-evaluated its mine plan and implemented several projects in 2019 to address the dust issue, including a major project to cap the Natal Phase II waste rock dump.
Capping Natal to Reduce Fugitive Dust
First, selected coarse rock was hauled to Natal to cover much of the fine matter on the dump face, effectively capping and closing over 75% of it. Next, the team used helicopters to conduct aerial seeding to vegetate previously closed areas of Natal. This process, which involved spraying seeds over Natal Phase II to re-vegetate the rock face, reduced wind erosion, successfully reducing dust generation as well.
After the capping was complete, EVO began moving finer materials to dumps less impacted by wind. This reduced the amount of fine materials likely to be picked up by wind, which could cause dust concerns.
Other Efforts to Improve Air Quality
Other efforts are helping to further improve dust management at EVO. In 2019, the operation introduced a strategy to use real-time weather monitoring to support decisions on when to conduct blasting, depending on wind and environmental conditions.
To minimize dust from impacting the community of Sparwood, blasts in sensitive or high-risk areas are now only completed when winds are favorable and moving away from the community.
By developing and executing innovative and practical solutions, we have been able to better mitigate fugitive dust generation across EVO.
Learn more about our approach to dust mitigation and air quality management in the Air Quality section of our website.