The University of Newcastle, Australia

Improving Environmental Management Strategies through Characterisation, Visualisation and Evaluation of Dust Emission Sources

Closing Date: 15 November 2019


PhD Scholarship

This project involves working with an industry partner open cut coal mine in the Upper Hunter, the Schools of Engineering and Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Key project elements are to:

  • Quantify dust emissions associated with haul roads, drilling/blasting and wind erosion - Identify and characterise the physicochemical properties of the dust sources and plumes
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of bulk conditioning and other dust controls
  • Establish a parametric relationship between mining activities, material characteristics, meteorological conditions, emissions, trigger actions, management controls and coal quality
  • Further develop and enhance a dust dispersion and emission forecasting model incorporating a neural network or other machine learning
  • Use and further develop a 3D volumetric LiDAR system

Studies of air quality concentrations in locations around open cut coalmines indicate that particulate deposition may occur over significant spatial distances of up to 5km and more. Coal comprises only a small fraction, while soil and clay dominate particulate emissions, resulting from activities on site and external to the mine. Such data indicate the significance of overburden/topsoil movements relative to raw coal production with typically 4 to 6m3 of overburden moved per tonne of raw coal produced. Aerosol monitoring has shown particulate matter PM10 and PM2.5 can comprise in the order of 50% and 25% respectively of the particulate distribution at distances of up to 1 km or more from emissions source. These data indicated that both of these particle concentrations are of significance to the open cut coal industry. Due to particle/air interaction, the dust plumes rise, sometimes above monitoring stations and deposit, with elevated particulate concertation retained in the air for up to 15 minutes after mining activity has ceased. This is also important as it suggests that elevated PM concentration occurs even in the absence of mining activity, and indicates that common open cut mining practice of relying on visual observation by the operators during mining activities may be inadequate. Furthermore, it is the coarse dust fraction (above PM10) primarily visible, but this tends to deposit near to source.The significant investment in dust mitigation throughout the coal industry too often does not have the ability to measure the extent of success.

Open-cut mine operations in close proximity to populated centres, such as those in the Upper Hunter, are exposed to the scrutiny and regular surveillance by the surrounding public. This is uniquely the case for the Mount Pleasant Operation (MPO), where background air quality requires stringent measures to minimise exceedance of the regulatory PM, other emissions and maximise operations.

The objectives of this project are to:

  • Quantify the dust emission levels associated with haul roads, drilling/blasting and wind erosion
  • Identify and characterise the physicochemical properties of the dust sources and plumes
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of bulk conditioning and other dust controls
  • Establish a parametric relationship criteria between mining activities, material characteristics, meteorological conditions, emissions, trigger actions, management controls and coal quality
  • Further develop and enhance a dust dispersion and emission forecasting model incorporating a neural network or other machine based learning methods consisting of these parameters

Additional research will also include:

  • Demonstrating the applicability of the 3D volumetric LiDAR system for evaluating existing dust emissions and the effectiveness of mitigation
  • Site campaigns to monitor dust emissions at the MPO 3 days per week, over 4 weeks (2 weeks pre and 2 weeks post mitigation measures).

PhD Scholarship details

Funding: $27,596 per annum (2019 rate) indexed annually. The living allowance scholarship is for 3.5 years and the tuition fee scholarship is for four years. Scholarships also include up to $1,500 relocation allowance and Overseas Student Health Cover at single rate, for an international candidate. Additional benefits also include allowance for travel to conferences.

Supervisor: Dusan Ilic

Available to: Domestic and International students

Eligibility Criteria

The successful candidate must meet the minimum eligibility criteria for admission.

Application Procedure

Interested applicants should send an email expressing their interest along with scanned copies of their academic transcripts, CV, a brief statement of their research interests and a proposal that specifically links them to the research project.

Please send the email expressing interest to dusan.ilic@newcastle.edu.au by 5pm on 15 November 2019.

Applications Close 15 November 2019


Contact Dusan Ilic
Phone +61 2 4033 9010
Email dusan.ilic@newcastle.edu.au

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