Degree Name

Master of Research


Department of Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering


Dust exposure in open pit mines is a significant threat to the health of mine workers. Particularly, the concerns are around respirable crystalline silica dust, which can be inhaled into the lungs and cause serious health issues. Miners who are exposed to high concentrations of PM2.5 dust for an extended period of time run the risk of acquiring respiratory conditions like silicosis and lung damage. Drilling is the first production-related operation in open pit mines, and it is considered one of the major sources of respirable dust in mines. This study investigates the application of surfactants in reducing PM2.5 dust resulting from drilling operations in open pit mines. Experiments are conducted on laboratory prepared sandstone blocks to compare the dust reduction rates of the surfactant to those of dry drilling and water-based wet drilling. Rotation rate, feed rate and the surfactant/water flow rate are the drilling variables altered in order to investigate the performance of the surfactant Triton X-100 in various drilling parameters. In addition, the performance of the low-cost Sharp GP2Y1010AU0F PM2.5 sensor for dust sampling is evaluated using the Casella Cel-712 Microdust Pro sensor for giving accurate real-time data by comparing the precision of measurements acquired by both sensors. Triton X-100 demonstrated dust reduction rates of up to 91.4%, where water achieved up to 91.0% dust reduction rate. Moreover, the results of this study suggest that the low-cost GP2Y sensor may not be the most reliable option for measuring PM2.5, and that the Cel-712 is a superior choice due to its more precise and consistent measurements. This study's findings provide useful insights into the use of surfactants in drilling operations and the efficacy of PM2.5 sensors and indicate possibilities for future study. However, the study recommends a further investigation of the trade-off between the increased expense of utilising surfactants and the benefits of enhanced air quality and lower health risks. Also, a comprehensive investigation of the performance of surfactants in larger scale drilling environments is recommended.

FoR codes (2008)

091405 Mining Engineering, 0907 ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING

This thesis is unavailable until Thursday, July 17, 2025



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.