Control valves enable safer dust suppression process in open-cut mine

Pentair Valves & Controls
Wednesday, 02 March, 2011


Effective dust control around mine sites is critical from an environmental as well as from a health and safety perspective. Tyco’s BIFFI Icon F02 electric actuators played a key role in helping to suppress dust at BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) coal mines in the Bowen Basin and Peak Downs. The F02 advanced modular actuators were used to control the water flow and fully automate the process at water refilling stations around the mine site.

Trucks driving along unsealed roads at mine sites give rise to clouds of dust that can blow into neighbouring towns, polluting the air, penetrating homes and adversely affecting the health of communities in the area. Mitigation is typically attempted by having a fleet of large water trucks continuously drive around the affected areas spraying water to suppress the dust.

 
A fully automated water refilling station featuring Tyco’s BIFFI Icon F02 electric actuators. 

In addition to attempting to address environmental, community and OHS issues, BMA was also seeking to raise production cost efficiencies at the mine site. “BMA was looking at ways to optimise water usage in their dust suppression process and also get the most out of their flow control equipment,” says Damian Clark, Product Manager at Tyco Flow Control.

In the existing system, drivers park their water trucks below the overhead refilling outlet, alight from their vehicles and manually operate the valve to fill the trucks. There was certainly an OHS risk with the drivers traversing through wet and potentially slippery areas to reach the valve. This was also a very slow manual process. “The introduction of a completely automated system would make for a safer work environment and ensure more efficient use of water,” explains Clark.

The solution involved installing Tyco’s BIFFI Icon F02 electric actuators to control the water flow and fully automate the process at the seven water refilling stations around the mine site. BMA set up the wireless network and configured the trucks, enabling the driver to fill up without having to leave the vehicle.

Tyco’s Biffi Icon F02 actuator was selected since it is designed around a modular concept. This allows the actuator to be configured according to customer requirements, making it more cost effective. The light, compact design results in Icon F02 models starting at just 7 kg, enabling installation on small valves with minimal stress or load to the pipework.

 
Tyco’s BIFFI Icon F02 electric actuator. 

Precise dust suppression is vital to a mine site because it is directly linked with the occupational health and safety of the employees. Unsuppressed dust also has the potential to adversely impact members of surrounding communities and cause environmental pollution. Although Peak Downs is one of the oldest and most established mine sites, BMA’s dust suppression techniques now utilise a combination of automated valves, actuators and controllers in a cost-effective and efficient implementation.

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