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Imerys, Wisconsin Proppants Win NIOSH Technology Awards


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Program, in conjunction with the National Mining Association (NMA), the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), and the Industrial Minerals Association–North America (IMA-NA), recognized the efforts of four organizations in their respective industry sectors for developing new tools and systems, or for using existing technology in new ways.

Four companies were awarded 2018 NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Awards during several ceremonies Sept. 25-27. Awards are given in four categories: coal, metal, industrial minerals, and stone, sand and gravel.

During IMA-NA’s annual meeting on Sept. 26, Imerys was presented with the award in the industrial minerals category for its development of a moisture-tolerant rock dust to be used within coal mines. Rock dust is an essential resource in coal mining, as it is mixed with the coal dust created during regular operations to guard against the propagation of explosions.

However, rock dusts vary in their ability to disperse when wet, creating a potentially hazardous situation. The rock dust blend developed by Imerys, called ImerCoal MT, keeps water from interfering with the dust’s protective qualities.

In the stone, sand and gravel category, Wisconsin Proppants Operations (WP OPS) successfully reduced airborne exposures to crystalline silica and respirable dust generated during frac sand production by installing two systems to control these dusts at the Wisconsin Proppants Hixton Mine.

The company’s use of a dense phase conveying system and a fogging system around rotex screens achieved dust reductions that offered measurable protections to workers. For this innovation, WP OPS was recognized during NSSGA’s legislative and policy forum and fall board meeting on Sept. 25.

“It’s clear that companies are taking the initiative to address the health and safety challenges in each sector,” said NIOSH Mining’s Dr. Jessica Kogel. “It’s heartening to see the industry develop its own meaningful solutions.”