What Are the Issues with Mine Haul Roads?

In Dust Control, Industrial Facilities, Mine & Quarry by Jim Silva

Mine haul roads begin at the loading face and often end at the waste dump — they can be used to transport products from the mine to waste disposal units, port facilities, and preparation plants along with ramps, haul roads are the lifeline of open pit mines. With these haul roads, however, come certain issues having to do with design and maintenance.

Design Flaws

Poorly designed haul roads can lead to series of problems, and this applies to haul roads in both surface and underground mining. Design speeds are a particularly important factor in the design of haul roads.

Depending on the area, speed limits on haul roads can vary from 6 mph to 28 mph and many factors, such as weather conditions, will help to determine the designated speed limit. Needless to say, the safety of those working on the site can be compromised if poorly designed haul roads fail to acknowledge the importance of design speeds.

Designs must also take into account the different vehicles that will be operating on the haul roads and consider the varying stopping distance and braking capacities. Naturally, areas that have to accommodate a significant amount of haul trucks will have to bear in mind the turning radius of the large vehicles.

Maintenance Issues

Though good haul road design makes for less frequent, less expensive maintenance, even the best design still requires the occasional touch-up.

A well-designed haul road must be maintained in order to avoid major equipment replacements or repairs, frequent problems with tires, a lack of safety, and a loss of production.

The floor conditions at both the loading area and the waste dump must be kept in particularly good condition, and operating costs are known to rise dramatically when haul roads are poorly maintained. This is due to the rough road increasing component wear, resulting in maintenance costs.

Another risk that poorly maintained roads run is that of rampant dust. Not only does loose soil lead to unstable roads, which are the cause of both vehicle repair costs and safety issues, it leads to hazardous PM10 and PM2.5 particles, which are dangerous to human health and can damage nearby plant life and property.

Plenty of companies use water to provide dust suppression, but doing so requires hundreds of thousands of gallons to keep up a productive mine without raising dust, and as miners know, resources like water can be scarce on jobs like these.

Design and Maintenance Solutions

Luckily, Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. has been helping companies find solutions for their vital haul roads for four decades. Midwest’s products are designed not only to be as effective as possible at keeping dust on the road and out of the air, but to be completely harmless to the surrounding environment.

Our products will keep the surrounding atmosphere free of dangerous dirt particles without contaminating groundwater, all while saving immense volumes of water and the money it takes to buy and apply it.

What’s more, our stabilization services can actually improve the strength and quality of haul roads, even if they’re poorly designed. In fact, after applying our products, your roads will actually get stronger the more often they’re used, turning the tables on the stability issues that miners so often face when doing critical transportation work.

On top of it all, our services will cut your roadway life cycle costs in half — when you consider all the advantages of the Midwest battery of services, it won’t take long before traditional solutions bite the dust.

(Image credit: Terry Feuerborn/flickr)

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