Mining Publication: Water Separator Shows Potential for Reducing Respirable Dust Generated on Small-Diameter Rotary Blasthole Drills
Drilling with water has the potential to significantly reduce the respirable dust concentrations generated from small-diameter rotary drills when drilling blastholes on surface mining operations. However, water adversely affects tri-cone drill bits commonly used in surface drilling operations, causing excessive wear and premature replacement. Consequently, dry drilling with a dust collector system has the most widespread use in the industry. Tests have been conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRL) on a newly designed device for smaller diameter drills that separates the water from the bailing air before it reaches the bit and thus provides the cost benefit of dry drilling while providing the benefit of wet drilling for dust suppression. The water that is delivered to the hole with the bailing air is separated from the air by a proprietary mechanical device that is encased in a drill sub (short section of drill rod/pipe) located immediately behind the cutting bit. A cascade cyclone and a real-time dust monitor were used to sample dust emissions from the holes. Dust concentrations and silica content were measured when drilling dry versus drilling wet. The tests show that drilling with this water separating sub can reduce both measured dust emissions from the boreholes and visible dust around the drill rig.