Long-Term Dust Solution for Tailings Storage Facility in Orange, NSW

In early 2020, Erizon won a major contract to develop a dust management solution for a 700ha tailings storage facility (TSF) at Australia’s largest gold mine, located in Orange, NSW. Our client had previously attempted various dust suppression methods, largely focused on traditional polymer solutions. Unfortunately, due to the salinity levels of the substrate, combined with the volatile conditions, these solutions had minimal effect. They typically provided protection for up to 90 days before having to be reapplied. As a result, in late 2019 our client reached out to market leaders in the dust management space and invited a select few to take part in a trial to determine the best fit for their site. We took part in this trial and carefully tailored an innovative, new solution resulting from multiple scientific trials and testing of our own accord.

The challenges that we faced on this particular site included:

  • Limited Access Since the site was a Tailings Storage Facility, access for application was significantly limited.
  • Equipment Customised equipment would have to be considered and created to service this site suitably.
  • High Salinity Previous polymer solutions had proven not feasible, so we had to consider alternative options.
  • Longevity The client was looking for a 5-year solution with the least amount of regular maintenance possible.
At the conclusion of the trial, we were selected as their partner to move forward due to our solution producing the desired long-term effect, meeting the project requirements, and exceeding the longevity targets the client was after. A big factor in this decision was not only providing a better solution than our competition, but also how our team engaged with the client and worked together as partners.

Our Solution

The solution itself, FibreLoc®, was developed as a result of this project, and the increasing demand for long-term dust suppression solutions on Tailings Storage Facilities across Australia. FibreLoc® is a heavy-duty dust suppressant that has been scientifically engineered for extreme conditions, ideal for exposed substrates with high salinity levels like tailings and ash dams. With unique, intersecting natural wood fibres and sustainable binders, FibreLoc® creates a flexible blanket over the substrate, the ultimate solution for uneven terrain that is prone to movement. In addition, for this project, we added a customer seed mix to the solution. The customer blend seed mix was engineered to ensure we achieved the longevity required for this project. This was designed to survive and thrive in the harsh conditions of the TSF and create a root structure that binds the substrate together. We also had to ensure the vegetation would survive the variable climate in Orange, NSW, which can vary from 40 degrees days of Summer to -5 degrees of Winter. Our solution was simple in theory. We aimed to grow numerous types of vegetation in the hostile environment of the TSF, providing superior dust suppression results, meeting EPA compliance standards, and satisfying the surrounding any possible community concerns.

The Obstacles

Our biggest obstacle for this project was the accessibility on-site for equipment. Direct access onto a TSF with standard equipment is unsafe, so we had to consider alternate options. Wanting to avoid aerial application, we developed a unique solution using our HydroRig technology and invested significantly into Load Bearing Capacity (LBC) Equipment to allow us to drive directly onto the surface of the TSF and apply our solution via a mounted HydroRig on a purpose-built truck that distributes the weight over a greater surface area. The combined PSI of our innovative solution is as low as 5.8, significantly less pressure than any standard vehicles or equipment. The LBC HydroRig won’t face the same issues of getting bogged or sinking into the substrate of the TSF and is a significantly more cost-effective option than having to rely on aerial distribution. While effective, aerial options do come at a greater cost, as well as increased safety requirements, reliance on third-party operators (pilots) and availability of aircrafts (helicopters, fixed-wing planes). With a team of engineers, agronomists, horticulturalists, and soil scientists behind us, here at Erizon we’ve got some exciting equipment innovations in late stages of development, with a PSI of less than one – which should bring the evolution of our industry to a whole new level.
Erizon's Low Bearing Capacity HydroRig applying FibreLoc onto the delicate surface of the tailings storage facility in Orange, NSW

Erizon’s Low Bearing Capacity HydroRig applying FibreLoc onto the delicate surface of the tailings storage facility in Orange, NSW

Dust Management Monitoring

In order to monitor the effectiveness of the dust management plan as it progresses, we installed Envizo – a real-time, on-site performance monitoring system that provides updates and alerts for any unexpected weather events or dust movement. Envizo provides crucial 24/7 access to a full range of performance indicators, including wind speed and direction, PM levels, soil moisture levels, rainfall, temperature, and humidity. While many sites utilise this kind of equipment and EPA monitors from the mine’s perimeter, we install Envizo directly onsite, allowing for real-time monitoring at the source, triggering any alerts and allowing for swift action to be taken by our team every time.
Green grass in the foreground, as a result of the successful application of Erizon's FibreLoc solution. Erizon's tracked tractor and customised HydroRig can be seen in the background.

Grass growth on the surface of the tailings storage facility in Orange, NSW. Erizon’s tracked tractor and customised HydroRig can be seen in the background.

Why Partner With Erizon?

With a full product range, solutions, equipment and application options and monitoring systems, we have developed an end-to-end solution that allows for full ownership over any projects – something that is not provided in our industry. With over 20 years’ experience in environmental solutions for mines, we aim to make all our solutions as cost-effective as possible while upholding our high standards for quality and providing a ‘Supply, Apply, Guarantee®’. Serving key components of a mine site’s lifecycle, we can fulfil the demands of mine rehabilitation, and pride ourselves on seeing the most successful outcome for any mine. Glenn Sullivan, Senior Environmental Consultant, says, “I make a point to present any client with an ROI that illustrates the benefits of taking these solutions (rehabilitation) in the short-term, to make the most impact for their site long-term, and minimise more costs in the future.”. Here at Erizon, we have placed a significant focus on innovation and pushing the boundaries of traditional methods to find and create better ways of tackling problems in the industry. Tom Corkhill, Operations Manager states, “We work closely with our partners to develop custom-made, cutting-edge solutions for their project. We are moving away from the one-solution-fits-all approach which is so common in our industry. The development of our new equipment is just one aspect of our continual evolution and growth that should revolutionise the industry.”. With the ability to take on projects of any size, we will tailor a solution to fit your site with ease. Contact us today to find out more or see how we could help you!