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The challenges of monitoring air quality in and around mining facilities

22-Nov-2023Fenceline | Industrial | Mining

The challenges of monitoring air quality in and around mining facilities

It isn’t easy to monitor air quality on or around a mining site: dusty, big machinery, water spray to suppress dust – the list goes on. But you may have to, because of a site permit or some other sort of compliance requirement. That’s the main reason we have seen, but other reasons include baselining and for health and safety.

If you have continuous dust monitoring set up, any false alarms (inaccurate high readings) can interrupt operations. Unfortunately, the very processes designed to minimise ‘high dust’ incidents can bring about just the alert being avoided: water spraying can change the characteristics of dust particles, making them bigger, looking like higher levels of dust. Such a false alarm can be avoided by heating the inlet to dry particles – but this requires higher power.

How you power air quality monitoring equipment around a mining site will depend on infrastructure and remoteness. Whilst a mains power supply is simplest, solar power offers power autonomy, even if you have to wipe the panel clear of dust occasionally. Alternatively, a 12V battery can be used. We use the mobile phone network for transmitting sensor data to the cloud, as there a very few places that don’t have some sort of mobile signal – and for the others we have satellite comms. If your site is installed with ethernet, we can power and communicate using that.

Most of our mining customers set up email alerts, so they have near real-time notice of exceedances, set to the level chosen for their site. Readings are often called by API to the client’s server or they may choose to look at latest data and trends online.

Can this sort of small sensor air monitoring equipment survive in a mining environment? The answer is a definite yes, but there will be some considerations, such as maintenance requirements and whether there are any consumables to replace.

Contact us today to chat about how AQMesh air quality monitoring systems can help support air quality monitoring strategies around your sites.