Water, energy and air solutions specialist Nalco Africa, the joint venture between Nalco, an Ecolab company (NYSE-listed) and Protea Chemicals, a division of the JSE-listed Omnia group, started intensifying its offering of dust control solutions to the Southern African market this year and reports that interest in its offering is growing.
Nalco Africa offers dust control solutions for road, underground, tailings, materials handling and rail-cart applications.
“One of the challenges we face with our dust control offering in Africa is that we only entered the local market at the start of this year,” says Nalco Africa district manager for mining services Grant Robinson.
To heighten local interest in its dust control solutions, the company is focusing on marketing its offerings and running various dust suppression solution trials across Africa.
“Once these trials have proved successful, which I have no doubt they will, it will give us a local reference,” he states.
Robinson states that, while there are many established dust control solutions distributors in the local market, many of the solutions have high maintenance requirements and negatively impact on the environment.
“Nalco has unique dust control solutions for different applications,” he says, adding that Nalco’s road-dust suppression solutions, typically used on mines, reduce road maintenance, do not structurally change the roads and assist in compacting and hardening road structures.
Robinson claims that many competitors’ road-dust suppression solutions require large volumes of water that contain high concentrations of chemicals.
“Nalco’s dust suppression solutions are cost effective and environmentally sustainable. They use low concentrations of chemicals and do not cause road damage. Water consumption is also reduced by 50%,” he points out.
Once a Nalco dust suppression solution is applied to a road, vehicles can drive over it, with no risk of damage to the vehicle. These solutions also increase water efficiency by reducing the surface tension and locking in the moisture. This stops the water from evaporating and reduces the need for frequent dust solution reapplication.
“This results in water savings, reduced maintenance on mine fleets and a reduced carbon footprint,” Robinson states, adding that Nalco’s dust control chemicals, including Nalco Dust-Ban, Nalco DustCon, Nalco Haul EZ, Nalco Haulage DC and Nalco Dust-Bind, were all developed within the last five years.
Nalco Dust-Ban is an organic-based surfactant and tackifier in an easy-to-apply liquid form. The tacky characteristics provide residual dust suppression by agglomerating fine particles and holding them together even after the treated material has dried. This agent is mainly used to reduce dust emissions during handling and processing.
Nalco DustCon is a surfactant that is added to water on the surface of the mine or underground to control dust on longwalls at transfer points and other underground mining processes.
Nalco Haul EZ is a proprietary road-dust control product, which is diluted with water using common road watering equipment. It has humectant and binding characteristics that help provide long-term dust control, reducing dust emissions to the atmosphere by heavy dump-truck traffic, Robinson explains.
“This solution is suitable for water-stressed areas, as the solution requires minimal water,” he notes.
Nalco Haulage DC is a blend of organic surfactants and other organic nonsalt-based humectants that is diluted with water and used to control dust on haul roads and improve water retention without the use of corrosive chloride compounds.
Nalco Dust-Bind is an encrusting agent that is diluted with water and applied to open rail cars and stockpiles to reduce dust during handling or dust caused by wind erosion. It forms a crust on the sprayed area.
The solution may be dispersed using water sprays, hydro-seeders or a water cannon on watering trucks, Robinson explains. It can also be applied to flat surfaces by a watering truck.
Robinson notes that Nalco Africa is undertaking a dust solution trial, using the Dust-Bind solution, for an ash stockpile in South Africa. The trial started towards the end of October.
“The application needs to stay on the stockpile for a couple of months, after which we will measure the results,” he explains, adding that the biggest demand for dust control solutions and, specifically, road-dust solutions in Africa, is in the mining industry.
Further, Robinson points out that Nalco is active in the coal and precious metals recovery sectors to which it supplies frothers and specialised collectors.
The company uses various processes to beneficiate coal, such as providing solutions to ensure the production of high-grade coal and flotation solutions.
To produce high-grade coal, the moisture in the coal needs to be reduced. Therefore, Nalco Africa supplies dewatering solutions to achieve lower moisture levels, leading to cost savings when transporting coal.
“All our developments centre around greener solutions. Any chemical developed by Nalco will not be dangerous to the environment,” Robinson states.
He notes that there is increasing interest from customers towards the use of sustainable chemicals for dust control applications; however, stricter regulations regarding environmental compliance will make this an even bigger driver for mining companies in future.
However, Robinson notes that, while customers are committed to environmental sustainability, mining companies cannot place their focus only on environmental sustainability.
“No mining company will spend money on dust control solutions simply because they are environment-friendly; the solution has to offer a financial return for the mine as well.
“Any solution introduced onto the market by Nalco Africa is environmentally and economically sustainable and safe for the people who will be exposed to it, says Robinson.
Meanwhile, Nalco Africa was a sponsor of and exhibitor at Coal Mozambique 2012.
Coal Mozambique offered a great networking opportunity for Nalco Africa. The company engaged with the key mining houses at the conference, which provided the company with insight into future mine development in the region.
“Mozambique is expanding and its coal industry is rapidly growing,” Robinson notes, adding that new mine developments in that country offer various opportunities for Nalco Africa’s coal technologies.
“We are currently active in Mozambique and aim to expand our presence in this region in the near future.”