2.1 Sources of air emissions

The principal activities associated with the life cycle of a typical mine site that lead to air emissions are summarised in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1: Summary of major mining activities associated with air emissions
Activity/source

Coal mining
- Open cut

Coal mining
- Underground

Metalliferous mining
- Open cut

Metalliferous mining
- Underground

Earthmoving associated with construction and development of surface facilities

P

P

P

P

Shaft/drift access and ventilation development

P

P

Removing vegetation and topsoil for mine preparation

P

P

Drilling and blastinga

P,G,O

P,G,O

Removing and placing overburden

P

P

Extracting, transporting and dumping coal or ore

P

P

P

P

Crushing coal, ore and other materials

P

P

P

P

Screening

P

P

P

P

Washery operations

P

P

Beneficiation of the materialb

P,G,O

P,G,O

General materials handling

P

P,G

P

P,G

Transporting and placing washery rejects

P

P

Workshop and/or power plant operationsc

P,G,O

P,G,O

P,G,O

P,G,O

Rehabilitation

P

P

P

P

Wind erosion from open pit, stockpiles, and exposed areas (including tailings)

P

P

P

P

Rail transport

P

P

P

P

Ship loading

P

P

P

P

Note: The cells are denoted as ‘P’ if dust or primary particle emissions occur and ‘G’ if significant gaseous emissions occur and ‘O’ if significant odorous emissions are possible. Note that in some cases, individual source activities may not apply: for example, beneficiation does not occur at all metalliferous mine sites. Note also that exhaust emissions from vehicles and machinery have not been included in the tabulation, as generally these emissions are relatively minor in quantity and impact compared to other emissions. In some cases, specific particle hazards such as respirable crystalline silica (RCS) or asbestos fibres may be emitted.

  1. The gaseous pollutant of most concern is nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  2. The gaseous pollutant typically of most concern is sulphur dioxide (SO2).
    For gold ore processing, hydrogen cyanide can be emitted.
  3. Gaseous emissions can include SO2, NO2 and various volatile organic compounds.

In addition to the emissions noted in Table 2.1 are exhaust emissions from mining equipment and motor vehicles, emissions from spontaneous combustion (especially in coal), and emissions of volatile organic compounds from fuels and solvents. Transport of coal and ores from mines to export terminals or customers can lead to significant emissions, predominantly dust.

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