Sponsored Content In the months since KGHM Ajax submitted its application for review, the report's tens of thousands of pages have been thoroughly scrutinized. Through this process, one question has come up again and again - can Ajax mitigate dust to the levels they've predicted?
"Ninety per cent road dust mitigation and greater is very achievable," said Chris Wild, Ajax's Project Manager. "Our consultants have studied this thoroughly. We have looked at other operations in other places, and know that we can keep most particulate emissions in the form of dust on the ground and out of the air."
Roads are the main source of fugitive dust at mine sites. The movement of haul trucks through a mine site kicks up dust in the same way that cars do as they drive on backcountry roads. Watering roads is extremely effective at keeping down dust.
A 2012 study conducted by Golder Associates at two of De Beers Canada's mines in the Northwest Territories supports Wild's contention.
De Beers was studying dust suppression on roads at its Victor and Snap Lake mines and concluded that watering roads every four to six hours (depending on environmental conditions) keeps road-bed moisture high enough to suppress dust beyond the 90 per cent level.
Wild said there is no mystery behind Ajax's projections.
"It all comes down to the frequency of watering, proper road construction and maintenance, strict speed limits, the use of organic dust suppressants and most importantly - a corporate willingness to make dust mitigation a significant goal," Wild added.
"We can and will meet the 90 per cent dust objective, because we know it is important to do so."
Keeping road dust out of the air is a commitment that comes with a cost. Watering roads often enough to minimize dust is more expensive. At Ajax, however, there are bigger issues at play, including safeguarding community health. Ajax has factored the costs associated with 90 per cent dust mitigation into the project's economics, and will run a fleet of water trucks the likes of which are not typically seen at mines.
"We know what it will cost to keep our roads at moisture levels that suppress dust beyond the 90 per cent level," said Wild. "It is factored into our economics. We can and will do it."
Wild said, in addition, Ajax will employ real-time upwind and downwind air quality monitoring stations to measure dust, and will adjust operations as required to ensure dust does not exceed permitted levels.
"We are committed to mitigating dust to achieve required standards," said Wild. "One hundred per cent committed to it, in fact. It is doable, and we will do it."