Planned Gravel Mine Leaves Citizens Worried about Dust and Health

In Dust Control, Environment, Mine & Quarry by Jim Silva

Plans to expand a nearby gravel mine are causing controversy for residents of Draper, Utah, as many are worried about the effects of possible dust pollution. Midwest offers products and services that could help.

The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported on a fraught city meeting: construction company Geneva Rock’s request to rezone 189 acres of land for manufacturing, thereby expanding their existing gravel mine, located just south of the city of Draper, Utah. While the request passed 3-2 (following bitter debate) many residents have raised concerns that the increased mining activity could increase silica dust pollution near their homes.

Local Disruption

According to area local Ryan Voigt, “Construction workers are required to wear breathers when they work with silica. Salt Lake and Utah County residents are not.” Residents have noted that the “asbestos-like” silica dust has begun to cover homes and make local life unpleasant.

Most disrupted is a flight park — where residents enjoy paragliding and related activities — that abuts the mine. While the park has actually drawn residents to move to Draper, some locals are now choosing to leave the area altogether.

The silica dust is released during the gravel mining process, and, without effective mitigation measures, the wind can carry it off-site. Breathing silica dust can aggravate a person’s airways, and prolonged exposure can lead to fatal lung diseases like silicosis.

Yet this dust is an inevitable byproduct of rock mining, which requires the blasting and drilling of rock into smaller pieces, followed by stages of crushing and screening. According to the The Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety drilling and blasting are two of the most common processes which generate respirable silica dust.

Even so, if appropriate dust mitigation measures are in place, dust need not be a hazard to the health of residents living near mining operations. While most mines have a purely water-based dust control method in place, this solution is only a bandaid on a much larger wound.

Dust Is No Longer A Problem With Midwest

With Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc.’s products, dust can be controlled at crucial stages of the supply pipeline, from gravel production to its eventual use in construction. Midwest’s Dustract® Wet Suppression System is a proven system for controlling fugitive dust during material process handling, breaking down the surface tension of water to encapsulate dust particles.

SoKleen® prevents the release of harmful silica particles from gravel, sand, clay, limestone, mixed aggregates, and soils during transport. Additionally, this non-toxic product prevents the formation of more dust particles, reinforcing its effectiveness.

Dust-Buster® for Material Handling is a highly effective dust mitigation system, suitable for use with the crushers used in aggregate production as well as several other types of industrial equipment. Combined with Dust-Buster® Foam Agents they are capable of dust capture of up to 95%.

While silica dust is an intrinsic side effect of gravel mining, Midwest’s solutions can effectively and economically eliminate the problem. With the help of their products, residents of mining towns like Draper can avoid the problems caused by dust and reap the benefits of a thriving mining industry.

(Image credit: Ken Lund/flickr)

Jim is Midwest’s Business Unit Manager for Global Mining. He is experienced in operations management, asset management, and business improvement.