Back to Resourceful September 2021

New dust suppression system contributes to improved productivity at Glencore Port Operations

A new conveyor dust suppression system installed at Glencore Port Operations is proving both environmentally and commercially beneficial by reducing dust emissions and improving shiploading efficiency rates.

Located in Townsville, Glencore Port Operations is the export gateway for our fully integrated Queensland Metals supply chain.

Copper and zinc-lead products mined and processed at our Mount Isa, Ernest Henry and Lady Loretta operations are carried by rail and road to the Copper Refinery and Port Operations in Townsville.

However, while copper cathode and lead bullion move through the Port, it’s zinc concentrate that is transported from Mount Isa and unloaded. It’s then transferred to ships on a conveyor system ready for export to customers in Asia, Europe and North America as well as other parts of Australia.

Unloading concentrate railed from Mount Isa into storage sheds at the Port.

Glencore Port Operations Superintendent, John Cordingley, says that since 2010 the business has invested almost $16 million in direct environmental initiatives to proactively reduce any community impacts from our operations at the Townsville Port.

“The recent installation of a new foam dust suppression system has been instrumental in reducing airborne dust from our product being transferred to vessels and this has helped to streamline the shiploading process,” says John.

“It is important that the shiploading process runs smoothly and efficiently as any delays can be extremely costly to the business.”

Foam sprays strategically placed along conveyors prevent dust from becoming airborne.

“Environmental benefits and significant commercial gains have been realised including the faster loading of vessels, a reduction in labour costs, improved berth functionality and increased dispatch returns for concentrate shipments,” John says.

The foam dust suppression system is superior to the old methods and provides a high level of dust control. Foam is pumped to six outlets strategically positioned within the shiploading conveyor preventing dust particles from becoming airborne. This is one of the main advantages over alternative systems.

Several steps in the process have now been removed. Less pre-blending of concentrates in storage sheds is needed and a fogging unit at the discharge point of the shiploader is no longer required creating a more simplified, efficient process.

Fully enclosed structures for loading, storage and handling of our products helps contribute to our continued commitment to strong environmental performance.
Conveyor chutes transfer the product to the shiploader.
The Townsville Port - Berth 8 Shiploader.
Our product is safely loaded onto ships and exported worldwide.

Water sprays were previously used to control dust but at times were counterproductive with the product becoming sticky. This caused blockages in the chutes which held up the shiploading process.

Since the installation of the new system, John says that vessels are being sent back into the market sooner which is a significant economic advantage for the business.

“Due to the success of the project, we are investigating options to have a second foam dust suppression system installed on other parts of the out loading system.”

“It’s important to continue the implementation of initiatives like this which streamline our processes and significantly contribute to improving air quality in and around the Port Operations,” John says.