Code of practice for managing particulate matter emissions in the potash sector: chapter 3

Official title: Code of practice for the management of PM2.5 emissions in the potash sector in Canada

3. Sources of particulate matter

Sector data indicates that dryers generate roughly half of the sector total particulate matter (TPM) emissions, compactors generate about a third, and remaining sources account for the rest. These estimated emissions categorized by source are shown in Table 3-1.

Table 3-1: Characterization of total particulate matter emissions *
Source category Estimated contribution to TPM emissions (%)
Mine exhaust

* Source: Hatch Consulting Engineering and Project Implementation. 2008. Environment Canada, Mining and Processing Division Canadian Potash Mining Sector Foundation Report.

As can be seen from Table 3-1, the main TPM emission sources are associated with drying and compacting activities. However, some of the lesser emission sources are not insignificant and must be considered as well. Therefore the main focus of this code will be the optimum operation of the PM2.5 emission abatement equipment, and environmental management practices associated with all identified sources.

The majority of PM2.5 emission sources from potash facilities in Canada are equipped with wet scrubbers for emission abatement. Emissions from wet scrubbers may contain water droplets and these water droplets can interfere with stack testing equipment designed for the measurement of PM2.5. Therefore the available PM2.5 data is not considered as reliable as that for TPM. Nevertheless, an approximate correlation normally exists between TPM and PM2.5 emissions. Accordingly the code focuses on the major TPM emission sources identified in Table 3-2, and by extension the PM2.5 emissions from these sources should also be reasonably well controlled by the practices recommended by the Code.

The emission sources associated with the mining and processing activities defined in Section 2 are identified and listed in table 3-2 below. The sources which are identified as sources of PM2.5 emissions are designated S1 to S8 for the purposes of identification in Table S-1: List of recommendations, and Section 4: Recommended PM2.5 emission control practices.

Some of the activities described in Section 2 are entirely wet processes, and are not sources of PM2.5 emissions. These activities, listed here, are consequently not included in Table 3-2:

  • wet crushing
  • scrubbing and removal of fine tailings
  • flotation
  • heavy media separation and
  • debrining/centrifuging
Table 3-2: Sources (S) of PM 2.5 emissions by activity
Activity PM2.5 emissions
Conventional underground mining: Subsurface operations (S1) There are some PM2.5 emissions associated with mining underground. These emissions, from operations such as primary crushing, material handling, the use of diesel trucks, and from mine air heating fuel combustion, discharge to atmosphere through the production shaft. However, these emissions are minor compared to the other activities.
Solution mining: Well drilling (S2) Drilling of wells to develop a series of horizontal subsurface caverns to progressively extract the saturated solution requires drilling equipment. PM2.5 emissions may be associated with diesel engines used to run the drilling equipment. This is a relatively minor source within a facility.
Conventional underground mining: Dry crushing (S3) Dry crushing generates some PM2.5 emissions, but this a relatively minor source within a facility.
Conventional underground mining: Evaporation and crystallization (S4) Boilers are used to provide steam for these processes. Boiler fuel combustion exhaust contains some PM2.5 but is minor considering the fuel is natural gas.
Conventional underground mining: Drying (S5) Drying generates PM2.5 emissions and these are controlled by dedicated dryer emission control devices, usually wet scrubbers and electrostatic precipitators.
Conventional underground mining: Screening (S6) Screening can generate PM2.5 emissions but these are usually controlled as part of general area ventilation systems.
Conventional underground mining: Compacting (S7) Compacting generates PM2.5 emissions and these are controlled by dedicated compactor emission control devices, usually baghouses.
Conventional underground mining: Material handling (S8) Material handling operations generate PM2.5 emissions but are generally enclosed. Some points have control devices.
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