Monthly Archives: November 2017

Reclaimed Materials

The construction industry is under increasing pressure to become sustainable. One way to address this is through the use of reclaimed materials. Reclaimed materials are those that have been previously used in a building or project, and which are then re-used in another project. The materials might be altered, re-sized, refinished, or adapted, but they are not reprocessed in any way, and remain in their original form. Materials that have been reprocessed and reused in the building industry are referred to as recycled materials.

Examples of materials that can be reclaimed include: bricks, slate roofing, ceramic tiles, fireplaces, doors, window frames, glass panels, metal fixtures and fittings, stairs, cobbled stones, steel sections and timber. A reclaimed material is often adapted for a different use, for example a roof beam might be used as a mantelpiece. This is known as re-purposing.

Why Reclaim?

The building industry has a massive impact on the environment in terms of energy consumption, use of natural resources, pollution and waste. Every year in the UK, construction materials account for around: 6 tonnes of materials per person, 122 million tonnes of waste (1/3 of total UK waste) and 18% of carbon dioxide emissions, a major contributor to global climate change. On top of this, the embodied costs associated with the extraction, production, manufacture and transportation of building materials are immense. Using reclaimed materials can significantly reduce these environmental impacts, and save up to 95% of the embodied costs by preventing unnecessary production of new materials, and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.

Where to Find Materials

The best place to source reclaimed materials is direct from a demolition or re-modelling project. Many of these projects carefully dismantle buildings in such a way that their materials can be sold and re-used. In the building trade this is known as deconstruction.

Reclaimed materials can also be sourced from salvage centres, reclamation yards and other specialist companies, who buy and sell materials that they have salvaged themselves from demolished sites. There are hundreds of salvage companies, some which deal only in high-end architectural materials, and others that are more like junkyards. Good quality, rare and heritage materials can be gleaned from salvage suppliers, and while purchasing can be more expensive than those sourced direct from a demolition site, there is a much wider choice of materials available on demand.

An Untapped Market

Although there are substantial environmental benefits to using reclaimed materials, the market is virtually untapped. At the moment, only 1% of reclaimed materials are used in new building projects, a percentage that should really be higher. One of the barriers has been a lack of information about sourcing and using the materials in design and development – including knowledge of specifications, standards, legislation and performance. But there are economic barriers too, including the cost of extraction in deconstruction, the limited flexibility of reclaimed materials, and problems of storing and double handling of materials between sites. In addition, medium to large building projects cannot take advantage of the reclamation industry, because the salvage supply chain is not yet equipped to deal with large orders.

Reclamation in Sustainable Development

Ongoing rapid development means that many historic buildings are being demolished to make way for new affordable housing and commercial space. Redirecting building materials from the waste stream of this process, and reusing them in other nearby projects is a critical component of sustainable development. There is a huge amount of construction waste, and the potential to reuse this to reduce landfill and new materials is enormous. When reclaimed materials are secured from an existing building site, the environmental impact is virtually zero. Even when they are sourced from far away, reclaimed materials are still the most environmentally friendly option for supplying materials to the building industry.

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Eco Friendly Construction Methods and Materials

Construction Green Building Methods

There is an urgent need to address the great challenges of our times: climate change, resource depletion, pollution, and peak oil. These issues are all accelerating rapidly, and all have strong links with the building industry.

There is a growing consensus from scientists and the oil industry that we are going to reach peak oil in the next twenty years, and that we might have reached this point already. Global demand is soaring, whilst global production is declining, and oil is set to become increasingly expensive and scarce. The building industry is hugely dependent on cheap oil, from the manufacture and transportation of its materials, to the machinery and tools used in demolition and construction. In the UK, it uses vast quantities of fossil fuels, accounting for over half of total carbon emissions that lead to climate change. The built environment is also responsible for significant amounts of air, soil and water pollution, and millions of tonnes of landfill waste. This is a situation that clearly needs to change.

Reducing Energy Consumption

With the inevitability of declining fossil fuels, and the threat of global climate change, reducing our energy consumption is an essential survival strategy. Choosing to build green saves energy. The low embodied energy of green products ensures that very little energy went into their manufacture and production, with a direct reduction in carbon emissions. Eco friendly design methodology can further reduce energy consumption by minimising energy inputs for heating, cooling and light, and incorporating energy efficient appliances. Saving energy for the occupant also saves money – an issue that will become increasingly important as the cost of fossil fuels inevitably rises in the near future.

Building Healthier Homes

Eco-friendly construction can not only help to create a better outdoor environment, it can also help to build a healthier indoor environment. Conventional building materials and methods have been linked to a wide range of health problems. Chemical pollutants from paints, solvents, plastics and composite timbers, along with biological pollutants such as dust mites and moulds are known to cause symptoms such as asthma, headaches, depression, eczema, palpitations and chronic fatigue syndrome. Green buildings eliminate these problems through good ventilation design, breathable walls, and the use of natural, non-toxic products and materials.

There are many good reasons why we should use eco-friendly construction methods and materials. It can improve the health of our planet, and the health of our own lives. It also supports local business and helps strengthen the local economy, which in turn helps to build our communities into vibrant, prosperous and desirable places to live.

A Necessary Choice

Green building is not only a wise choice for our future; it is also a necessary choice. The construction industry must adopt eco-friendly practices and materials that reduce its impacts, before we reach a point of irreversible damage to our life supporting systems. The UK Government is beginning to recognise this urgency, and is committed to integrating green specifications into building regulations and codes, but the process of developing policy is slow. The industry needs to take its own initiative and find alternative ways to build, using green, renewable energy resources, and adopt non-polluting practises and materials that reduce, recycle and reuse, before it is too late.

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Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Pan African poised for growth, proposes R185m final dividend

Precious metals mining company Pan African, which on Wednesday proposed a R185-million final dividend, reports that it is poised for growth as remedial action regarding its operational challenges in the 12 months to June 30 delivers expected results.

The London- and Johannesburg-listed company, which reported a production decrease of 15.4% to 173 285 oz in its 2017 financial year, is looking forward to a much-improved performance from its Evander Mines in the 2018 financial year, when a substantial increase in gold production is expected.

The company’s lower production in the 12 months to June 30 was primarily the result of a 55-day suspension of production at Evander Mines, which was required for the completion of the refurbishment of critical shaft infrastructure at No 7 Shaft.

The group is also continuing to engage with all stakeholders to ensure its operations can function in a stable and consistent manner following a loss of production shifts at its Barberton Mines owing to frequent instances of community unrest in the area as a result of service delivery protests, compounded by Section 54 regulatory notices issued at both Barberton Mines and Evander Mines during the first half of the financial year.

Revenue from continuing operations decreased by 15.5% to R2 925.3-million with profit after taxation falling 43.3% to R309.9-million.

Profits were adversely impacted by reduced gold production and a flat rand gold price during the year.

Earnings a share decreased by 34.4% to 19.81c a share and gold production and realisation costs were well contained, increasing by 7.7% to R2 343.1-million.

Describing the 2017 financial year as operationally challenging, Pan African CEO Cobus Loots said the company had appropriately addressed critical shaft infrastructure repairs at Evander Mines, resulting in a leaner cost base without compromising the safety or sustainability of the business.

At the company’s flagship long-life cash flow producing Barberton Mines, high-grade panels are currently being mined at Fairview 11-block, which is set to contribute substantially to Pan African’s production guidance of 190 000 oz for the 2018 financial year.

In addition to Evander’s Elikhulu gold tailings project being environmentally approved and on schedule to produce first gold in the final quarter of the 2018 calendar year, a feasibility study has begun at Evander’s 2010 Pay Channel project, where an exploration borehole successfully intersected the Kimberley reef at a depth of two kilometres. The previous borehole into the 2010 Pay Channel yielded a reef intersection with a 49 cm width at 36 g/t.

The disposal of the Uitkomst colliery to Coal of Africa on June 30 realised a profit of R91.3-million, demonstrating the value created over the 15 months of ownership by Pan African.

The recently announced disposal of Phoenix Platinum to Sylvania reaffirmed the company’s focus on core operations, with the cash proceeds strengthening the company’s financial position.

The benefits of the PAR Gold transaction of the prior financial year has provided the accounting effect of reducing the issued share capital by 436.4-million shares in the 2017 financial year, equating to 19.53% of the issued share capital of the company.

DRA Projects has assisted Pan African in the completion of a feasibility study on the construction of a raise-bored, sub-vertical shaft from Fairview’s 42 Level to 64 Level, with the potential of continuing the vertical shaft to 68 Level in future.

This sub-vertical shaft will be used to transport employees and material to the working areas, which will allow the No 3 Decline to be used exclusively for rock hoisting, increasing overall capacity and production from this mining area.

DRA has reviewed the technical and commercial aspects of the project and the supporting feasibility study has yielded very positive results. The estimated capital expenditure for the project, including contingencies, is R105-million, to be incurred over a two-year period. The productivity improvements for Fairview are estimated to yield an additional 7 000 oz/y of gold, which can be optimised further to more than 10 000 oz/y.

The board’s proposed final dividend of R185-million, again, holds out the prospect of an attractive cash return to shareholders.

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Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

DustWatch is Water Wise

Here are some pic’s of our water saving system that we’ve set up at our offices in Piketberg. Richard Kuhn has been the man putting in the work!  Thanks Richard!!

Water saving system - Dust Watch Water saving system - Dust Watch Dustwatch - Water saving system - Saving water

Here are some water saving tips from the Western Cape Government

Water saving tips: 

  • You’re not allowed to water/irrigate with municipal drinking water. This includes the watering/irrigation of flower beds, lawns, vegetables, agricultural crops, other plants, sports fields, golf courses, schools, learning institutions facilities, nurseries, parks and other open spaces. (Nurseries and customers involved in agricultural activities or with historical gardens may apply for exemption (visit the City of Cape Town website for the application process).
  • Please use municipal drinking water, at 87 litres or less per person per day.
  • No watering/irrigation with municipal drinking water allowed. (facilities/users making use of boreholes, treated effluent water, spring water or well points are encouraged not to water/irrigate within seven days after rainfall that provided adequate saturation.).
  • All wellpoints and boreholes must be registered with the City and used efficiently to avoid wastage and evaporation.(Visit the City of Cape Town website  for moreinformation on registration).
  • If alternative water sources are utilised, ensure that you display signage which is clearly visible from a public road or street. Visit how to register.
  • No hosing down of hard-surfaced or paved areas with potable (drinking) water(except for health purposes) .Users, such as abattoirs, food processing industries, industries using water to prepare for painting or similar treatments, care facilities, animal shelters and other industries or facilities with special needs can apply to the Director: Water and Sanitation for exemption, (visit the City of Cape Town website for the application process).
  • Do not use municipal drinking water for ornamental water features.
  • The maximum showerhead flow rate may not exceed 10 litres per minute.
  • Flush toilets (manually using a bucket) with greywater, rainwater or other non-drinking water.


  • No washing of vehicles, trailers, caravans or boats using municipal drinking water is allowed. These must be washed with non-drinking water or waterless products.
  • No topping up (manually or automatically) of swimming pools allowed, even if fitted with pool cover. This includes the filling of new pools or the refilling of an existing pool after a repair.
  • The use of portable play pools is not allowed.

Businesses and public facilities:

  • The washing of vehicles, trailers, caravans or boats with municipal drinking water ar not allowed except where an exemption has been granted. This applies to both formal and informal car washes. Vehicles, trailers, caravans and boats should be washed with nondrinking water or waterless products. Exemption on application may be granted if water recycling is used in the washing process, (visit the City of Cape Town website for the application process).
  • Fitted pool covers must be used for public swimming pools where practically possible.
  • No automatic top-up systems for swimming pools are allowed.
  • Spray parks are not allowed to opperate.
  • All public spaces must install water efficient parts to minimise water use at all taps, showerheads and other plumbing components and must adhere to Water By-law requirements.
  • Golf courses, sports facilities, parks, schools and learning institutions can’t establish any new landscaping or sports fields, except if irrigated only with non-potable water.
  • Contract conditions shall apply for any facility supplied with water in terms of special contracts (notarial deeds, water service intermediaries or water service providers).

Other restrictions, not detailed above, still apply as stipulated in Schedule 1 of the Water Bylaw, 2010. Please visit the City of Cape Town website for more information on: Know your water regulations.

For queries on water restrictions please send an email to

You can also stay up to date with the water levels of the main dams supplying the Cape metropolitan area.

South Africa labour disputes drag Petra Diamonds shares down

Shares in Petra Diamonds (LON:PDL) dropped almost 6% Tuesday after the company reported fresh labour disruptions at two of its mines in South Africa, amid talks to reach a new wage agreement.

Workers at Petra’s Finsch mine and the Kimberley Ekapa joint venture have gone on a strike, Petra said in the statement. Underground and surface mining have been affected at both sites but its treatment plant is running “near normal” capacity, it added.

The news come just a day after the company logged disappointing results for its financial year and updated the market on an ongoing legal wrangle in Tanzania.

The stock fell roughly 6% to close at 74.50p adding to the nearly 6% it had already lost on Monday after Petra warned it might be in danger of breaching its banking covenants if it cannot resume exports from Tanzania.

Petra has borrowed heavily to expand its historic diamond mines in South Africa, previously owned by top producer De Beers.

The strikes at the South African operations come as the diamond miner, known for some major recent findings, is negotiating a new three-year wage agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). It has already reached an agreement at its Cullinan mine.

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About 2,500 jobs on the line at Impala Platinum’s Rustenburg operations

About 2,500 jobs on the line at Impala Platinum’s Rustenburg operations

South Africa’s Impala Platinum (JSE:IMP), the world’s second largest miner of the precious metal, revealed Monday it had begun talks with authorities and unions that could see at least 2,500 workers laid-off at its Rustenburg operations west of Johannesburg.

The miner, also known as Implats, said it might need to cut even more jobs at Rustenburg, which has a labour force of 31,000 and which despite being the biggest contributor to the company’s total output, has also been a major factor to its full-year loss.

Reporting 2017 results last week, Implats warned it was considering restructuring operations that would involve lay-offs and the possible closure of its Marula mine because of production disruptions due to violent community protests nearby.

Labour productivity rates have declined over the last few years and production levels at Rustenburg have been reduced from a historical base of some 1 million platinum ounces per annum, to the 680,000 to 720,000 ounces forecast for the 2018 financial year, the company said in the statement.

“It must be emphasized that no final decision has been taken as regards the proposed restructuring, and no final decision will be taken prior to full and proper consultation with affected employees, and their representatives,” Implats’ chief executive officer Nico Muller said.

Implats’ move follows similar measures taken by other South African miners, including AngloGold Ashanti (JSE:ANG) (NYSE:AU) and Sibanye Stillwater (JSE:SGL) (NYSE:SBGL), which have recently announced plans to shut down their loss-making decades-old operations in the country.

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Fugitive dust


Fugitive dust is a nuisance and a source of air pollution (Datson, Hall and Birch 2012). Anthropogenic sources of fugitive dust include, but are not limited to, construction, industrial and mining activities. These sources are regulated under the National Dust Control Regulations (NDCR) of 2013 (NEMA: AQA 2013).

The purpose of the NDCR is to prescribe general measures for the management and monitoring of dustfall using the American Society for Testing and Materials method D1739:1970 (ASTM D1739: 1970) or equivalent internationally approved method.

Little has been published on the repeatability, uncertainty, accuracy and precision of dustfall monitoring. The aim of this study was to improve the understanding of the uncertainty and the confidence level of dustfall monitoring using the ASTM D1739: 1970 method.

Methods A dustfall monitoring network was established along the perimeter of a lime processing facility in Gauteng and monitored for 12 months. The network consisted of 12 directional dustfall samplers that were modified by removing the rotating lid. Each sampler contained Four buckets (A, B, C and D) with the dimensions 238 mm (height) and 175 mm (diameter). (Figure 1).

The basic premise with the four buckets per stand was to ensure that each bucket would be exposed to the same conditions and for the same period; therefore, should have equal amount of dust deposition. This assumes that dustfall rates for each of the four buckets are not impacted by the close proximity of the four buckets to each other on the stand. This is an untested limitation of this study. The difference in the weight (mg) of the dust recorded from each bucket at each respective site is observed.

To continue reading please follow the link – Clean Air Journal

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

6 Tips for Keeping Your Lungs Clean

Keeping your body clean on the inside is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy and, as such, many people regularly perform colon cleansing and liver cleansing routines. Harmful organism cleanses and toxic metal cleanses are also common, beneficial, and recommended. But did you know there are measures you can take to keep your lungs clean too? It’s important to have healthy lungs, as a pair, they’re one of the most active organs in the body and certainly one of the most important. We can go weeks without food, and days without water… but not very long without air. Here are 6 easy tips you can implement right away to keep your lungs at peak performance.

1. Don’t Smoke

This one is a no-brainer, the detrimental effect of cigarette smoke on the lungs has been known and documented for over a hundred years… yet some people continue to do it. Smoking deposits harmful and obstructive tar in the lungs, not to mention a phone-book sized list of chemicals. The chemicals in cigarette smoke, like carbon monoxide, inhibit mechanical lung function and contribute to the development of big, big problems like emphysema and cancer. Smoking is bad for your health and it’s bad for everyone around you. There’s no need to rehash what we all know, let’s just shut the book on this one- don’t smoke!

2. Perform Lung Cleansing Exercises

Did you know breathing exercises can strengthen your lungs and help clear toxins? Just as bicep curls will strengthen your arms, deep breathing exercises will strengthen your lungs and clear your airways. Deep breathing provides a secondary benefit in that they deliver more nourishing oxygen to your body. Shallow breathing is often a product of weak lung function or sedentary habits. It’s a bad habit and if you’re guilty, stop! Once or twice a day, find a quiet place and perform the deep breathing exercises that tap into the full capacity of your lungs!

3. Eat Lung Cleansing Foods

Did you know pistachios, plantain leaf, and cayenne pepper are all foods that promote healthy lung function? Pistachios contain gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E that is believed to reduce risk of lung cancer. Plantain leaf, popular in Latin American cuisine, is useful suppressing mucous and may help respiratory problems that involve congestion. Cayenne peppers are potent foods whose benefits are equal to their heat. Cayenne has been shown to relieve irritation which is great news when you’re suffering from coughs and sore throats.

4. Reduce Your Indoor Air Pollution Exposure

Indoor environments can be contaminated with over 1,000 species of mold and mildew. Pet dander is a common indoor pollutant that is notorious for antagonizing allergies. Synthetic, chemical-based cleaning products are toxic substances with toxic fumes, just check the warning label! (and make your own natural alternatives instead). Upholstery, carpet, paint, and building materials are also all common sources of indoor pollution. The indoor air pollution problem is compounded by the fact that home construction has become more airtight in the last 30 years which traps pollutants inside. A drafty house may not seem the most efficient when the electricity bill arrives but there is something to be said about the constant airflow. Aside from ridding your home of the sources of pollution, air exchange systems and indoor air purification systems are good proactive approaches to purifying the air in your home.

5. Make a Castor Oil Pack for Lung Cleansing

Castor oil packs are easy to make at home and work great for drawing toxins out of the body! Castor oil has long been appreciated as a general health tonic and is believed to stimulate lymphatic circulation and waste elimination. Castor oil packs are placed on the chest, perhaps similar to vapor rubs, and are thought to break up congestion and toxins. Easy, effective, and inexpensive, try it!

6. Take Lung Cleansing Herbs

Plants like oregano, orange peel, elecampane, eucalyptus, peppermint, lungwort, osha root, chaparral, and lobelia have been used for hundreds of years, if not longer, as natural remedies for respiratory conditions. Individual herbal tinctures and extracts are available, or, rather than purchasing and taking each separately, Allertrex® is a natural lung cleansing supplement that contains organic and wildcrafted herbs known to support respiratory ailments, help with normal lung functions, and cleanse your lungs of harmful agents.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

Keeping your lungs clean

Keeping Your Lungs Clean – Source – Global Healing Centre

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Environmentalists win bid to stop mining in protected area for now

The Centre for Environmental Rights has won a court bid to immediately stop an Indian-owned company from mining in an environmentally protected area in Mpumalanga.

The centre, representing a coalition of civil society organisations, lodged an urgent application against Atha-Africa Ventures Pty Ltd with the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Judge Hans Fabricius told the parties to go back to the negotiating table and, on their return on Wednesday, the court granted an order that Atha-Africa should give the Centre for Environmental Rights’ lawyers three weeks written notice before commencing with any mining or mining-related activities.

The centre launched the urgent application against the backdrop that the company may have had to start work on the site on Wednesday, exactly a year after the approval of its environmental programme.

It’s mining rights required it to commence work within a year and that was why the environmentalists rushed to court.

The coalition is also involved in another litigation process against the various departments, including of the mineral resources department, that issued licences to the company relating to the mine as the area is inside the Mabola Protected Environment outside Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga.

The coalition consists of groundWork, the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, Birdlife South Africa, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Federation for a Sustainable Environment, Association for Water and Rural Development and the Bench Marks Foundation, and is represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights.

Catherine Horsfield, the centre’s mining programme head, said the court victory was important because the coalition was challenging all the licences granted to the mine, and both parties were also disputing what licences mine would require.

“In view of the irreversible damage that would be caused by mining in this important area, the coalition will take all steps necessary to prevent mining from commencing, including further court proceedings.” she said.

Horsfield said the coalition was still pursuing the judicial review of the mining rights, which were only granted in 2015 after the area was also declared a protected area; the appeal of the environmental authorisation, awaiting a hearing before a panel that will advise the Mpumalanga Environment MEC; the appeal of the water use licence, awaiting hearing by the Water Tribunal; the appeal of the environmental management programme, awaiting a decision by the of mineral resources department as well as a judicial review of the environment and mining ministers’ decision to allow mining in a protected area.

However, despite disputing with the Centre for Environmental Rights over approvals, the company said, in response to City Press that it could not give a new time frame on when they would be commencing pre-construction works because it was awaiting approvals from various departments.

The mine is expecting to a run-of-mine production at full ramp-up of 2.25 million tons a year of export quality coal for 17 to 20 years’ life of mine.

At full capacity, the mine said it would be employing about 567 people.

One of Atha-Africa’s shareholders is Bashubile Trust which has President Jacob Zuma’s nephews, Sizwe Christopher Zuma and Vincent Gezinhliziyo Zuma as trustees.

Source – News24

Mining company serves summons on environmental rights lawyers

Cape Town – Two attorneys at the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) were on Wednesday served with a summons by an Australian mining company operating on the West Coast.

The attorneys are Tracey Davies and Christine Reddell. Community activist Davine Cloete was served a summons two weeks ago, GroundUp reported.

The mining company, Mineral Sand Resources (MSR), a subsidiary of Mineral Commodities Limited, is suing the attorneys and activist for defamation of the company and its director, Zamile Qunya.

“Here is a message to corporates who think they can use lawsuits and other intimidation tactics to silence the voices of activists: When you threaten one of us, you threaten all of us,” said Melissa Fourie, executive director of CER.

“We will fight back, we will continue to investigate corporate misdeeds, and we will rally support from partners – but most of all, we will not be silenced.”

Standing in support of Davies and Reddell at the serving of the summons was a representative from Right2Know and Stephen Law, executive director of the Environmental Monitoring Group.

In a media statement, CER referred to the defamation case as a “Slapp” suit – a strategic lawsuit against public participation.

The defamatory comments are alleged to have occurred during speeches at the University of Cape Town’s Summer School in January.

Reddell, Davies, and Cloete were presenting information about MSR’s Tormin mineral sands mine operation which they said was “environmentally destructive”.

“We’re not disputing that we said it; we’re disputing that it was defamatory,” said CER representatives. “We will strongly defend the claims. We have the support of the social justice sector in South Africa.”

“MSR has claimed R250 000 in damages from each of our attorneys, and a further R750 000 from Cloete,” CER states on its website.

Source – News24

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Scientists find fossilised cosmic dust in white cliffs of Dover

Scientists find fossilised cosmic dust in white cliffs of Dover

Researchers from Imperial College London report that the white cliffs of Dover contain the fossilised remains of cosmic dust.

The significance of this discovery, published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, is that the fossilised cosmic dust could provide a new source of information about the early solar system.

Mr Martin Suttle, lead author and a research postgraduate from Imperial’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, said: “The iconic white cliffs of Dover are an important source of fossilised creatures that help us to determine the changes and upheavals the planet has undergone many millions of years ago. It is so exciting because we’ve now discovered that fossilised space dust is entombed alongside these creatures, which can also provide us with information about what was happening in our solar system at the time.”

The team also report in a separate study published in the journal Geology that they’ve discovered a way for determining if cosmic dust was clay rich. Clays can only form if water is present, so a method for determining clay content could act like a cosmic divining rod for determining the presence of water rich asteroids in our solar system.

Dr Matt Genge, lead author from the College’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, said: “In the distant future, asteroids could provide human space explorers with valuable stop offs during long voyages. Being able to source water is vital because it can be used to drink, to make oxygen and even fuel to power spacecraft. The relevance of our study is that cosmic dust particles that land on Earth could ultimately be used to trace where these water-rich asteroids may be, providing a valuable tool for mapping this resource.”

White cliffs of Dover study

Cosmic dust has been previously found in rocks up to 2.7 billion years old. However, until now only cosmic dust that was very well preserved could be studied by researchers. The significance of the their new study says Mr Suttle is that less well preserved fossilised cosmic dust can now also be located and examined in detail.

Previously, scientists had not known that the white cliffs of Dover contained fossilised cosmic dust, although it has been located in other rocks before.

Scientists find fossilised cosmic dust in white cliffs of Dover
A cosmic dust fossil with Christmas tree-like crystal structure. Credit: Imperial College London

The researchers suggest that the reason it has been overlooked is that the fossilisation process masked the true identity of the dust particles. This is because when the dust fossilised it replaced the original mineral content with different materials. At the same time the original minerals in early fossilised creatures were also being replaced with similar materials, masking the identity of the space particles.

The team determined that fossilised cosmic dust was present in the chalk samples by spotting their distinctive spherical structure and christmas tree-like shape of their crystal content.

In geological terms, pristine cosmic dust particles are a relatively recent record of events in the solar system. Now that they’ve located a new source of cosmic dust, which is much older, the team says it could help them to understand events beyond Earth such as major collisions between asteroids, which have occurred much earlier, perhaps even around 98 million years ago – a time when cosmic dust records have been difficult to unearth.

Scientists find fossilised cosmic dust in white cliffs of Dover
The holes in this cosmic dust particle shows where the water has bubbled to the surface and vaporised. Credit: Imperial College London

Cosmic dust divining rod

In the study in the journal Geology, the Imperial researchers have calculated that olivine crystals in cosmic dust act as a proxy for clay particles and the presence of water.

As cosmic dust enters the atmosphere it can reach searing temperatures of more than 600 degrees Celsius and this causes its original mineral content to undergo transformations where they turn into glass and crystals. The heat also vaporises any trace of water molecules, making it difficult to determine if it was present.

Now, Dr Genge and his colleagues have analysed past studies and carried out some calculations to determine that shattered pieces of olivine crystals contained in cosmic dust is a proxy for water. This is because the loss of water from the interior particle has a cooling effect leading to extreme differences in temperature between the surface and the core of the particle. Olivine crystals shatter when one part is hotter than the rest because huge stresses develop owing to differences in expansion.

Dr Genge has calculated that around 75 per cent of the cosmic dust that lands on Earth contain shattered olivine crystals. As cosmic dust particles are the pulverised remains of asteroid and comet collisions in our solar system, it suggests that clay content and thus water content of these space rocks are high.

Now that the team knows that clay rich asteroids may be abundant in supply the next step will see them trying to trace the origins of the cosmic dust to asteroids orbiting the solar system. They plan to do this by comparing how cosmic dust and asteroids reflect infra-red radiation to find parent asteroids that match the dust particle’s infrared signatures.

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Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

When The Dust Settles

Each year, several hundred million tons of African dust are transported westward over the Atlantic to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Summer storms and accompanying warm air can lift dust as high as 15,000 feet above the African deserts, and then out across the Atlantic.

Now, thanks to satellite imagery, scientists can observe the path of transport. The ability to see dust storms from space, coupled with soil analyses, are leading some researchers to theorize a relationship between degradation of Caribbean marine species and airborne pathogens. The researchers also believe the dust may be contributing to human health problems.

Since the 1970s, coral reefs in the Caribbean have been in a state of continual decline, and several other marine species suffered mass mortalities in 1983. Coincidentally (from 1970 to the present), transatlantic dust transport from North Africa increased dramatically, with peak dust years occurring in 1973, 1983, and 1987, according to a group of scientists.

“Our hypothesis is that much of the coral reef decline in the Caribbean is a result of pathogens transported in dust from North Africa,” said Gene Shinn, senior geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Center for Coastal Geology in St. Petersburg, Florida. Shinn, who has spent most of his career studying marine sediments and ground water movement, has witnessed dramatic changes in coral reefs during the last four decades. “I started taking pictures of individual reef areas back in 1959, and the photo record shows that the reefs have been steadily declining,” he said.

Then Shinn came across a graph of African dust flux developed by Joe Prospero, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Miami, who had been measuring dust on the island of Barbados since 1965. The graph showed dramatic increases in dust flux beginning with the onset of the drought in North Africa that started around 1970, with peak years occurring in 1973, 1983, and 1987. “I knew these were significant years, especially 1983 and 1987, for certain species mortalities that occurred in the Caribbean,” said Shinn.

Barbados Mineral Dust Annual Average and Benchmark Caribbean Events
Dust deposition peaked in 1983 and 1987, years when extensive environmental change was evident in Caribbean coral reefs. (Image adapted from the USGS Center for Coastal Geology: Coral Mortality and African Dust, courtesy of Dr. Joe Prospero, University of Miami. A new browser window will open.)

Extending throughout coastal zones of warm tropical and subtropical waters, coral reefs are among the world’s most diverse and productive ecosystems. The large, wave-resistant structures are formed by colonies of billions of tiny coral animals, called polyps, which secrete hard calcium carbonate skeletons for protection. Accumulations of these hard skeletal structures build up coral reefs over time. Coral reef growth rates vary, depending on the species of coral and environmental conditions, ranging from 0.3 to 10 centimeters per year.

Reef-dwelling corals have a mutually beneficial, or symbiotic, relationship with plant-like algae called zooxanthellae. These algae produce food, via photosynthesis, and also provide the coral polyps with their brilliant color. In a process known as “coral bleaching,” corals under environmental stress expel these algae from their tissue, exposing the colony’s white calcium carbonate skeleton. Episodes of coral bleaching proliferated in Florida and the Caribbean in the late 1980s and 1990s, with a major event occurring in the summer of 1987, Shinn’s team reported in the October 1, 2000 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

A species of soft coral, called sea fans, suffered a widespread die-off in 1983, and again in the mid-1990s. Environmental scientists have long suspected that a pathogen was released into the environment and spread to the Caribbean region. But the pathogen was never identified.

In 1983, a species of long-spined sea urchin, called Diadema antillarum, experienced severe mortality that decimated the entire population within one year.Diadema are herbivores that crawl on reefs eating the algae, a process which keeps the reef clean. “When a new coral larva lands on a clean rock surface it has a good chance of propagating, but if the rock surface is covered with algae, it’s very difficult for new coral growth to begin,” Shinn said.

The unknown pathogen first struck Diademapopulations in Panama in mid-January, 1983, the team reported, and by the following July had spread to reefs in Belize, Mexico, and the Florida Keys. This path suggested rapid movement of the suspect pathogen in the main Caribbean current, a deduction that supports the team’s dust transport hypothesis.

Photographed before 1983, Diadema sea urchins keep a dead coral surface free of algae. In the summer of 1983, most Diadema urchins died, leaving the coral covered with algal mats that impeded establishment of coral larvae. (Image courtesy of the USGS Center for Coastal Geology: Coral Mortality and African Dust. A new browser window will open.)

Scientists have long known that dust clouds travel long distances. Iron- and clay-rich soils found on many Caribbean islands originated as dust from Africa, and studies show that essential nutrients in Hawaiian rainforests are transported via dust from Asia. African dust also supports a robust bromeliad-based ecosystem high in the tree canopy of the Amazon rainforest, according to Shinn. “The ecosystem in the tree canopy is based on red soil and includes various bugs and worms,” he said.

A long-term drought in the Sahel region of North Africa that began in the early 1970s, along with overgrazing and the drying of Lake Chad, are believed to contribute to the increase in dust that is carried across the Atlantic Ocean (see From the Dust Bowl to the Sahel). “We know that the variations in dust concentration measured in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic correlate with rainfall deficits in North Africa, especially in the Sahel region,” said Prospero. “If the dust is altering the health of ecosystems, then this could be a significant climate-related effect.”

On February 26, 2000, NASA’s Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) captured a massive dust storm as it blew off the coast of North Africa and reached 1,000 miles into the Atlantic. The SeaWiFS instrument, part of NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise (ESE) project, collects global data on earth’s oceans and land every two days and is the first mission capable of monitoring the global biosphere. Since the orbiting sensor can view all cloud-free ocean regions every 48 hours, SeaWiFS data have proven useful in atmospheric science research.

Data from the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS), available from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, provides the scientists with “real-time” images of dust storms. The TOMS is the first instrument to allow observation of aerosols as the particles cross the land/sea boundary. “I can look at TOMS data on NASA’s Web site and see a dust storm coming; then my colleague in the Virgin Islands confirms that visibility is only about two miles that day,” said Shinn.

False color image
In this Landsat image, red indicates vegetation growing on a small island off the coast of Mexico (known as Chincorro Bank). The blue-green regions around the island represent shallow coral reef areas. (Image courtesy Serge Andrefouet, University of South Florida, and the Landsat 7 Team)

In addition, remote sensing data from NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite enable coral researchers to map and monitor the health of coral reefs around the world (see Mapping the Decline of Coral Reefs). By looking at the variability of the pixels’ brightness on a set of Landsat images, scientists can map the extent of change a reef has undergone and, by observing color fluctuations, can even identify when a reef changes from living (polyp-covered) to non-living (algae-covered).

“Some early studies surmised the transport flow, but the advent of remote sensing is what really made it possible to see the dust’s precise course,” said Shinn. Satellite imagery shows that African dust is transported mainly toward the Caribbean and equatorial regions of South America during North American winters, and then shifts north towards Florida and the Southeast United States during summers, the team reported in their paper.

“You have to live in the Virgin Islands to fully comprehend the amount of red dust people clean from boat sails, decks, and window screens there,” said Shinn.

Ginger Garrison, a USGS marine ecologist who lives on a boat in the U.S. Virgin Islands, understands the situation better than most. “During an African dust event, our normally clear blue skies turn a hazy gray, and visibility degrades from unlimited to only a few kilometers,” she said.

Clear day
Dusty day
Two photographs looking north from St. John, toward Jost Van Dyke, show the difference airborne dust makes in the British Virgin Islands. (Images courtesy of USGS, photos by Ginger Garrison.)

Using a vacuum pump, Garrison set up a filtering device that captures dust samples, which she then places in sterile containers and sends to microbiologists working with the team. Dale Griffin, a post-doctoral microbiologist hired with funding from NASA, cultures and identifies microbes in the dust samples. So far, Griffin and team member Christina Kellogg have cultivated over 130 bacteria and fungi isolates, most of which came from samples collected during Caribbean dust events that occurred in 2000.

“We typically isolate about two colonies of fungi from clear air samples, whereas we might recover 20 to 40 isolates of fungi and bacteria from samples taken during dust events,” said Griffin. Griffin’s studies also show the presence of viruses in the dust, although further species identification needs to be done.

According to Shinn, the team’s finding that viable microorganisms are making the journey in the dust was surprising. “Most microbiologists will tell you that ultraviolet light kills bacteria during an exposure time of five to six days,” said Shinn.

But Griffin said that overlying dust clouds, as well as smoke from slash-and-burn agriculture, might act as a filter, depleting ultraviolet (UV) sunlight. “Microbes at lower altitudes in the dust clouds receive lower doses of UV, which could enable them to survive,” he said. Another possibility, according to Griffin, is that the microbes may adhere to cracks or crevasses on dust particles, which could protect them via shading.

A correlation between increased dust and outbreaks of the disease that struck the Caribbean sea fans also appears to exist. Garriet Smith, a researcher at the University of South Carolina, identified Aspergillus, a soil fungus, as the cause of sea fan disease. But since Aspergillus does not reproduce in seawater, a constant supply of spores was needed to explain the ongoing nature of the disease. Later, Smith and colleagues isolated Aspergillus sydowii from the dust samples and inoculated healthy sea fans with the culture, achieving a 50 percent positive reaction. “So far, that is the best smoking gun we have for proof that microbes transported in the dust are having a detrimental ecological effect,” said Shinn.

“Occasionally, swarms of large grasshoppers get caught up in the dust and make it all the way from Africa to the Caribbean — alive,” said Shinn. Pesticides, many of which have been banned in the U.S., have also been detected in African dust that accumulates in drinking water cisterns in the Caribbean, according to Shinn.

Heavy metals, including mercury and arsenic, and elevated levels of lead-210 and a naturally-occurring radioactive isotope known as beryllium-7, have also been detected, Shinn said. But according to USGS geologist Chuck Holmes, these levels can’t be characterized as dangerous until further studies are done.

In addition to affecting marine ecosystem health, the researchers suspect that the dust may trigger respiratory health problems in humans. According to Shinn, levels of asthma on the islands of Barbados and Trinidad are among the highest in the world. “The incidence of asthma on Barbados and nearby Trinidad, as documented by the Caribbean Allergy and Respiratory Association (CARA), has increased 17-fold since 1973,” he said. “And that was the first year that Prospero’s graph showed a big spike in the dust record there.”

The St. Petersburg Times reported that the number of Americans with asthma has increased 154 percent since 1980. Hillsborough County, Florida, which includes the Tampa Bay region, has one of the state’s highest asthma rates, with 7.1 percent of students now reporting asthma symptoms, compared to 2.7 percent just four years ago.

“According to Prospero’s work, about half the particles breathed in South Florida during summer months originate in Africa,” said Shinn. “The asthma epidemic in areas that are relatively free of industry correlates with the increased flux of African dust that has been continuously monitored in Barbados since 1965.”

Prospero is proposing a study to examine increased outbreaks of asthma in the Caribbean. “We will use remote sensing to look at the relationship between the number of people presenting asthma symptoms at hospital emergency rooms and the occurrence of African dust,” he said. If approved, Prospero’s study will include culturing dust samples for the presence of fungi, pollen, and other microorganisms.

But researchers need to exercise caution in interpreting results, according to Prospero. “Not a lot is known about wind-transported disease,” he said. “At this point, it’s a hypothesis that has some supporting evidence. But it’s a complicated subject.”

Shinn said his immediate goal is to continue identifying microbes in the dust. “Proving or disproving a causal relationship between African dust and coral reef demise has the potential to redirect research efforts more wisely,” he said.

The decline of coral reef health is generally attributed to pollution, sedimentation, or warm water associated with the North Atlantic and El Niño Southern Oscillations. In a 1999 article published in Science, Harvell and colleagues reported that a dramatic global increase in the severity of coral bleaching in 1997-98 was coincident with high El Niño temperatures.

While Shinn acknowledges that changes in water temperatures have contributed to or caused coral bleaching, he claims that some damaged coral reefs are located in isolated areas where pollution or runoff do not occur. “Elevated water temperatures from El Niño caused widespread coral bleaching, but pollution and sedimentation do not explain why coral reef disease occurs in regions that are remote and unpopulated,” he said.

In addition to analyzing microbes in the dust, Shinn plans to collect 20-foot sediment cores from an offshore sink hole near Belize — samples that he hopes will provide several thousand years of dust transport history.

“Our findings so far demonstrate the need for further studies,” said Shinn. “If soil dusts serve as carriers for microbes, pesticides, heavy metals, and insects, then monitoring and prediction of these transatlantic dust events is warranted.”

Allison, W., 2000. Breathing Lessons: Learning to Live with Asthma. St. Petersburg Times. February 11, 2000.

Harvell, C.D., K. Kim, J.M. Burkholder, R.R. Colwell, P.R. Epstein, D.J. Grimes, E.E. Hofman, E.K. Lipp, A.D.M.E. Osterhaus, R.M. Overstreet, J.W. Porter, G.W. Smith, and G.R. Vasta. 1999. Emerging Marine Diseases — Climate Links and Anthropogenic Factors. Science.285(5433), pp. 1505-1510.

Shinn, E.A., G.W. Smith, J.M. Prospero, P. Betzer, M.L. Hayes, V. Garrison, and R.T. Barber. 2000. African Dust and the Demise of Caribbean Coral Reefs. Geophysical Research Letters. 27(19), pp. 3029-3032.

African Dust Causes Widespread Environmental Distress. USGS Information Sheet. April 2000. Accessed April 19, 2001.
African dust storm
Dust storm sweeps from Africa into the Atlantic. 
Coral reef
Reef inhabitants produce a profusion of color in the Caribbean. (Image courtesy of Sustainable Seas Expeditions. )

The bromeliad plant family includes many epiphytic species that grow on other plants and derive moisture and nutrients from the air. African dust supplies soil for epiphytic plants living in the tree canopy. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Information Agency, photo by M. Bleeker.) 

When The Dust Settles – Source –

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

9 Great Ideas to Control Dust at a Construction Site

Several dust control measures available for your project

Dust control measures are applicable to any construction site where there is the potential for air and water pollution from dust traveling across the landscape or through the air. Dust control includes practices used to reduce or prevent the surface and air transport of dust during construction. The EPA’s recommendations is to clean and impact the least possible areas if they are not going to be worked, however, we all know that sometimes due to scheduled activities, the clearing and grubbing of the entire site is done all at once, although this might be different on large-scale projects.



Water tanker
 Water tanker. SA Transport/Flickr


The most used alternative, due to its low cost of implementation and excellent results. Water should be applied at least three times a day or more, depending on the atmospheric conditions. Also, you should be aware of the quantity of water applied and prevent excess water that can cause erosion problems. A water tanker is driven on site spraying water over the affected areas preventing dust from airborne.


 Mulch and Vegetation

Annie A. Amo


May be applied to protect exposed soil from both wind and water erosion. Although this method is ​”green”  friendly, watering your vegetation can become a headache if not coordinated properly as it might bring erosion problems as well. When applied, this technique can reduce wind erosion by up to 80 percent. Hydro-seeding is one of the dust control methods preferred by construction projects.However, one important thing, depending on where this is located, seeds can be attractive to birds and wildlife and you could end up losing about 50% of your seeds due to the birds.



NRCS_South Dakota/Flickr


A control measure performed with chisel type plows on exposed soils. Tillage shall begin on the windward side of the site. Tillage is only applicable to flat areas.  Roughening the soil can reduce soil losses by approximately 80 percent in some situations. Tilling should leave 6 in. (minimum) furrows, preferably perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction, to gain the greatest reduction in wind erosion, thus maximizing dust control methods.


 Polymers as Dust Control

Can be an effective practice for areas that do not receive vehicle traffic. Dry applied polymers must be initially watered for activation to be effective for dust control. This method bonds the individual soil particles together and when it dries, forms a flexible “crust” that strengthens the surface of the soil. It has been determined that the effectiveness of this solutions ranges between 70-90 percent.


 Tackifiers and Soil Stabilizers

Dust control
Linnaea Mallette


This dust control method can create a fiber-to-seed-to-soil bond (without hardening) that reduces the need for re-seeding and minimizes soil erosion. During a wetting event, the polymer material absorbs water, which allows the tackifier to go back into solution. Upon drying, there is a new seal over the soil solving the dust control problem on construction sites.



Dust suppression system
 Dust suppression system. Photo


Chloride retains moisture for prolonged periods helping you fighting against dust and erosion problems. The unique property of chlorides helps to hold down dust and stabilize unpaved road surfaces, creating smooth-riding roads that last.



Turbidity barrier
 Turbidity barrier. Washington State Dept of Transportation


A board fence, wind fence, sediment fence or similar barrier can control air currents and blowing soil. All of these fences are normally constructed of wood. Perennial grass and stands of existing trees may also serve as wind barriers. Barriers prevent erosion by obstructing the wind near the ground and preventing the soil from blowing off-site.Barriers shall be placed at right angles to prevailing wind currents at intervals of about 15 times the barrier height. Solid board fences, snow fences, burlap fences, crate walls, bales of hay and similar material can be used to control air currents and blown soil.





Stone can be an effective dust deterrent for construction roads and entrances or as a mulch in areas where vegetation cannot be established. In areas of high wind, small stones are not as effective as 8-inch stones.


Sweep Equipment

Dust control sweeper
 Sweeper. Pixabay


Normally used in highways or paved roads, sweep equipment can be used to clean debris and dust from paved or roadways.I am not a huge fan of this method, as sometimes it seems that more dust is being released to the air rather than sweep or vacuum. However, it is another tool available fro you.

Control Dust at a Construction Site – Source –

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.