Ensuring air quality is an important issue facing most mining companies. The presence of thermal generators on site to provide the mine with necessary electricity produce nitrogen and sulphur oxides (NOx and SOx). Heavy vehicles, crushing and grinding processes and blasting are sources of dust; as to are waste rock dumps and the heap leach. Significant levels of airborne dust can cause problems for workers and local communities, including breathing issues and eye irritations. If not carefully managed dust and other airborne particulate matter can:
- Increase the risk of accidents
- Impact working conditions
- Cause occupational health issues
- Damage relations with local communities and endanger social license to
Occupational health and hygiene risks are formally recognised in each area and the necessary controls implemented to mitigate these risks to our employees. These areas are routinely reassessed internally, on site, on a monthly basis and by an external authority twice yearly to ensure that the controls remain relevant and effective. Centamin follows IFC guidelines to monitor and manage air quality at operational sites.
A number of programmes are in place at Sukari to monitor ambient dust levels and gas emissions and ensure that airborne particulate levels remain within limit. Programmes in place include the routine collection of samples from various areas across site and assessing the different work areas and positions with personal dust monitors. Dust suppression measures at the Sukari include:
- Fitting water sprayers to the crushers
- Regular wetting of on-site roads.
Resultant of day-to-day operations on the mine site, including underground, is generation of dust, noise, minor spills and odour, as well as high temperatures. These measures are regularly monitored and assessed in the context of employee wellbeing, community impact and environmental impact. Safety personal protection equipment is required for the workforce and visitors, including high visibility clothing, protective glasses, earplugs, masks, hardhats and gloves. Additional mitigating measures include regular dust suppression and infrastructure upgrades where appropriate. In 2020, US$7 million of growth capital has been committed to substantial upgrades to the underground ventilation system and infrastructure. This will improve underground air quality and temperatures, as the mine prepares to expand at depth.