Mining - pg 2

Market Segments :: Mining ::

Recent Studies concerning Diesel Exhaust and Miners

Recently, two studies were conducted that detail the harmful effect diesel particulate matter can have on respiratory health of mining workers.  Specifically, the articles concluded evidence exposure to diesel exhaust may cause lung cancer in humans and increase risk of mortality from lung cancer.  The two articles can be found here:  jnci.djs034.full.pdf and 869full.pdf.

In addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), has classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans and “that there was sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of diesel exhaust. The Working Group found that diesel exhaust is a cause of lung cancer (sufficient evidence)”.  The details of these findings can be found here: (pr213_E.pdf).

Biodiesel in Underground Mines, the Renewable Fuel Standard-2, and Receiving RIN Credits

Under the Renewable Fuel Standard-2, biodiesel use in underground mines, even at high blend percentages such a B99 or B100 qualifies for receiving renewable identification numbers (RINs).  Specifically, under section 80.1401, biodiesel is defined in the RFS-2 as “Biomass-Based Diesel“ and this definition means:

  • A renewable fuel that has lifecycle GHG emissions at least 50% less than that of  baseline diesel AND
    •   Is a transportation fuel (motor vehicle, non-road, locomotive, marine), transportation fuel additive, heating oil, or jet fuel.

Mining operations, whether surface or underground, are considered to be “non-road” and therefore biodiesel used in these operations will qualify for RINs.

Equipment Used in Surface and Underground Mining Operations

Surface mining equipment can involve a number of different pieces of equipment such as wheel tractor scrapers, draglines, mining trucks, and shovels.  For underground mining operations, usually three separate pieces of equipment are used:  face drill, loaders, and haul trucks.  The engine horsepower (HP) varies by individual piece of equipment, what commodity is being mined, and its duty cycle.  Major mining equipment manufacturers (both surface and underground) are Caterpillar, Komatsu, Vermeer, Leibherr, Volvo, Terex, Wirtgren, Boart Longyear, and Cummins.  Their respective web sites have detailed information on types of equipment they offer for the mining industry, engine sizes and horsepower, and warranties.

It needs to be noted these manufacturers do not warranty their engines for high blend levels of biodiesel, but in numerous instances blend levels of B50 to B100 have been used without problems in underground mines.  It is absolutely critical the biodiesel 1) meet the current ASTM D6751 specification, and 2) in some cases, it should have been produced from a BQ-9000 production facility.

National and State-level Data and Statistics on Mining Operations and Commodities

The following two tables present 1) trends in metals and non-metals (non-fuel) mined, and 2) state level information on the types of metals and non-metals mined, a ranking of each state, and the value in 2011 that mining was to the state and national economies. 


Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control – Office of Mine Safety and Health Research, in 2010, indicate 97 underground mines and 199 surface mines in the metals sector; 41 and 613 underground and surface non-metal mines nationwide respectively; and stone operations were comprised of 111 underground mines and 4,414 surface operations. 


The latest listing of mines by individual company and types of metals/non-metals mined by them within each state can be found at: http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/m&q/ and the following maps show the state locations of metal, non-metal and stone operations.  A breakdown by type of mining operation (metal, non-metal, stone, sand and gravel, coal), name of mine, location, address and contact information within an individual state can be obtained at: http://www.msha.gov/drs/asp/extendedsearch/minesbystatecommodity.asp

Success Stories of Biodiesel Use in Underground Mining Operations

As shown in the four slides above, biodiesel, in high blend levels, can be extremely effective in reducing DPM and corresponding EC levels in engines operating in underground mines.  Biodiesel has been used in a number of mining operations throughout the United States and has been shown to be very effective in reducing DPM levels. 

In 2004 through 2006, MSHA ran a series of tests in several underground mines across the US to determine the reduction in DPM versus conventional diesel fuel used in their operations.  These mines are: Detroit Salt Company (Michigan) – salt;  Fort Dodge (Iowa) –  gypsum; Durham Mine (Iowa) -  limestone; and Weeping Water (Nebraska) – potash.  In each of these cases, the mines saw significant reductions in the elemental carbon (EC) levels when they employed B99-B100.  For more information, please contact the individual mines. 

Biodiesel Success Story – Hutchinson Salt Company, Hutchinson, Kansas

In 2006, the Hutchinson Salt Company in Hutchinson, Kansas was the first in the nation to use B100 in their underground mining operation and continued to use it through 2009.   During that time, they needed a few more initial filter changes and some seals needed to be changed out as well.  In 2009, they purchased different loading equipment with newer engine technologies (tier 3 engines) which run much cleaner than the older engines they had previously used.  Because of that they have scaled back their biodiesel blend level to between a B30 to B50 blend to achieve the desired level of DPM to meet MSHA requirements. 

Unfortunately, very little public data is available related to these cases of using higher blends of biodieselactual affects these high blend level have had on engines in these underground mining operations.  The National Biodiesel Board has been working since 2006 with several underground mines on their use of high blend levels of both soybean and waste grease biodiesel and has found those mines using these high blend levels have stressed the quality of the received biodiesel is probably the most important factor

State, Regional, and National Mining Organizations and Agencies

There are a number of state, regional, and national agencies and organizations that deal with a number of energy, environmental, regulatory, and other issues associated with the mining industry. 

National Mining Organizations

On a national basis the following website as the most complete list of agencies and organizations:  http://www.msha.gov/MINELINK/NATIONAL.HTM.  Another web site is:  http://www.miningusa.com/associat/national.asp

State and Federal Mining-related Agencies

Information on agencies at the state-level organizations can be found here: http://www.msha.gov/MINELINK/STATES.HTM and at the federal level here:  http://www.msha.gov/SITEFED.HTM.