Coal Mining

Everything you need to know about dust suppression in coal mines

Effective dust suppression solutions in Australia are very important in any coal mine. Coal dust is both a safety and health issue. The high concentration of dust from coal mines can lead to dust or gas explosions and result in miners suffering from fatal illnesses.

Dust explosions and gas explosions cause major economic loss and injury. The safety and health management systems at coal mines should provide ways of ensuring that workers are not exposed to dangerous dust levels. It is also strictly regulated that employees are not exposed at the mine containing dust exceeding an average concentration of 3 milligrams per cubic metre of air.

Shifts that last beyond 8 hours should ensure that exposure to dust doesn’t exceed that of people working on a shift of 8 hours. It is also stipulated that if the average concentration of dust in the atmosphere is above the required levels, then controls for reducing dust should be reviewed.

Mines, especially coal mines, use different measures such as water spray suppression, ventilation dilution, and stabilization to prevent dust, although the major one of these is water spraying due to its affordability. Due to increased water tension, however, fine dust from coal mines is not well suppressed as water spray efficiency is less than fifty percent.

Water alone is often ineffective in controlling coal dust because coal has poor hydrophilicity. This means that for water to be effective, the addition of surfactants in water improves the coal dust’s wettability.

An experienced water solutions company adds surfactants to improve the wetting ability of water. The four main surfactants added to water are cationic, anionic, zwitterionic, and nonionic surfactants.

Challenges in coal dust management

Coal dust is generated from numerous processes of production, including shearing or loading, drill and blast, coal stockpiling, mining, processing and utilization, and transportation. There is also coal dust that is generated from conveyor transport driven by coal particles colliding and falling at subsurface points of transfer and through ventilation air flow in coal mines and the natural wind from outdoor environments.

Coal has different physical chemistry characteristics with different metamorphic stages. This affects wettability. The degree of metamorphism of coal varies in different areas which affect the wettability of the coal dust.

Industry best practice

The mining industry has been on the search for the best dust suppression methods and techniques. Various products have been introduced in the industry to make water work. When choosing the best coal dust suppressants, it is important to factor in the percentage used per tonne, the effects on coal calorific values, and the chemistry of the coal face according to the metamorphic stage.

When it comes to using the best dust suppression solutions in Australia, it is important to consider products that are tailor-made to suit the dust suppression needs to the satisfaction of both the employees, management of the mine and the regulations. Using effective methods keeps employees safe and the mine adheres to the industry regulations.

Written by Mark Potter, Staff Business Writer at on behalf of