Managing air quality is critical to people, communities and the environment, and minimizing the impact of dust in the community is a year-round priority for Teck at our steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley of British Columbia. We are deploying known effective dust mitigations and looking at other innovative mitigations and monitoring systems to drive continued improvement at our operations.
One of the most successful pilot projects in recent years is helicopter seeding, which reduces fugitive dust in hard-to-reach areas by increasing vegetation. The increased vegetation traps soil and dust in its root structures and serves as natural windbreaks, both of which lead to reduced dust emissions. Helicopter seeding was successfully trialed on inactive waste rock piles and is a cost-effective way to vegetate these areas with minimal maintenance required long term.
Environmental intelligence systems, including real-time air quality monitoring, help us predict dust events and deploy solutions as needed. Our monitoring systems include 15 dual dust and ultrasonic wind sensor monitors, two particle monitors, and a new weather station. By integrating environmental intelligence systems with Teck’s existing ambient air monitoring stations, we are able to monitor meteorological conditions and particulate matter concentrations in and around the mine site in real time. This allows us to detect early warning triggers for dust events, such as wind speed or direction, and apply appropriate dust control measures in advance of potential events.
We are also trialing new and innovative solutions focused on minimizing and managing dust generation, including custom blend foaming products which, if successful, will be an industry-first dust suppression technique.