ALL open-cut mines will have to have to abide by new environmental conditions that the state government says could slash their total dust emissions by about 20 per cent.
Environment Minister Robyn Parker will outline today the changes that will require mines to do more to reduce and monitor the amount of dust generated from trucks on unsealed mine haul roads, and the movement of soil and rock waste, or overburden.
The requirements are set out in binding ‘‘pollution reduction programs’’.
Mines would have to use best practice methods to limit the dust whipped up from their heavy vehicles.
‘‘Dust generated by mine haul roads – generally dirt routes with constant machine traffic – is the biggest source of fine dust particles on most mine sites, contributing about 40per cent of total emissions,’’ Ms Parker said.
They would also have to alter or stop the loading and dumping of overburden during bad weather conditions to minimise fine dust, known as particulate matter.
Mines would also have to investigate and put in place new measures for handling overburden, such as the use of water sprays, and report to the Environment Protection Agency on their progress.
National Pollutant Inventory data has typically shown about half of the state’s fine particulate matter dust emissions are produced in Singleton and Muswellbrook, sparking health concerns.
The government has estimated the 20per cent reduction in emissions from mines can be achieved, based on the results of the first phase of its ‘‘dust stop’’ initiatives.
In mid 2011, nine mines, including Mount Arthur, Liddell and Bengalla mines in the Hunter, were placed on pollution reduction programs.
It followed an independent report commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency that looked at the latest dust suppression measures and compared the efforts of NSW mines to international best practices.