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Airborne Dust – Particulate Matter

An interesting read found at Geology and Human Health (click the link for the full article).


“Airborne dust is particle, or Particulate Matter (PM), pollution, and is one of the most significant air pollutants in Pima County. PM is made up of tiny solid particles or liquid droplets (a fraction of the thickness of a human hair) that float in the air we breathe. Because they are so small, you cannot see individual particles, but you can sometimes see the haze that is formed when millions of particles blur the spread of sunlight.

Examples of the types of dust found in the work environment include:

Mineral dusts, such as those containing free crystalline silica (e.g., as quartz), coal and cement dusts;

Metallic dusts, such as lead, cadmium, nickel, and beryllium dusts;

Other chemical dusts, e.g., many bulk chemicals and pesticides:

Organic and vegetable dusts, such as flour, wood, cotton and tea dusts, pollens;

Biohazards, such as viable particles, moulds and spores

Dusts are generated not only by work processes, but may also occur naturally, e.g., pollens, volcanic ashes, and sandstorms.

Sources: Where Does It Come From

Airborne Dust Particles can come from pretty much anywhere, any movement or activity can cause a large amount of excess particles in the air.

Disturbed vacant or open lands

Construction and mining activity

Landscaping maintenance activity

Industrial sources

Fires: fireplace, camp, forest

– Charcoal or wood-burning barbecues – Off-road vehicle activity
– Unpaved and paved roads, parking lots – Diesel exhaust

How Airborne Dust Particles Travel The Earth

Airborne Dust Particles can travel through various sources such as soil being lifted up by weather (an Aeolian process), volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust comes from arid and dry regions where high velocity winds are able to remove mostly silt-sized material. This includes ares where grazing, ploughing, vehicle use and other human activities have furthered the destabilized the land. Dust in the atmosphere is produced by saltation and sandblasting of sand-sized grains, and it is transported through the troposphere. The airborne dust is considered an aerosol and once in the atmosphere, it can produce strong local radiative forcing.


Airborne Dust Particles contaminates the biosphere through inhalation by humans and animals, and can also effect crops growing in an area with large amounts of dust particles. When inhaled, the fibers are deposited in air passages and on lung cells.”

Coal Dust

Coal Dust






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

Effects of Mining on the Environment

This informative article was found at – please follow the link to read the full article.


“Effects of Mining on the Environment and Human Health

Effects of Mining
Coal mining, the first step in the dirty lifecycle of coal, causes deforestation and releases toxic amounts of minerals and heavy metals into the soil and water. The effects of mining coal persists for years after coal is removed.

Destruction and poison linger
Bad mining practices can ignite coal fires, which can burn for decades, release fly ash and smoke laden with greenhouse gasses and toxic chemicals. Furthermore mining releases coal mine methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Coal dust inhalation causes black lung disease among miners and those who live nearby, and mine accidents kill thousands every year. Coal mining displaces whole communities, forced off their land by expanding mines, coal fires, subsidence and contaminated water supplies.

There are two widely used ways of mining: strip mining and underground mining.

Strip mining
Strip mining (also known as open cast, mountaintop or surface mining) involves scraping away earth and rocks to get to coal buried near the surface. In many cases, mountains are literally blasted apart to reach thin coal seams within, leaving permanent scars on the landscape as a result.

Strip mining accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s coal mines but in some countries, such as Australia, open cast mines make up 80 percent of mines. Even though it’s highly destructive, industry often prefers strip mining as it requires less labour and yields more coal than underground mining.

Impacts of strip mining:
*Strip mining destroys landscapes, forests and wildlife habitats at the site of the mine when trees, plants, and topsoil are cleared from the mining area. This in turn leads to soil erosion and destruction of agricultural land.
*When rain washes the loosened top soil into streams, sediments pollute waterways. This can hurt fish and smother plant life downstream, and cause disfiguration of river channels and streams, which leads to flooding.
*There is an increased risk of chemical contamination of ground water when minerals in upturned earth seep into the water table, and watersheds are destroyed when disfigured land loses the water it once held.
*Strip mining causes dust and noise pollution when top soil is disrupted with heavy machinery and coal dust is created in mines.

The result of all this is barren land that stays contaminated long after a coal mine shuts down.

Although many countries require reclamation plans for coal mining sites, undoing all the environmental damages to water supplies, destroyed habitats, and poor air quality is a long and problematic task. This land disturbance is on a vast scale. In the US, between 1930 and 2000, coal mining altered about 2.4 million hectares [5.9 million acres] of natural landscape, most of it originally forest. Attempts to re-seed land destroyed by coal mining is difficult because the mining process has so thoroughly damaged the soil. For example, in Montana, replanting projects had a success rate of only 20-30 percent, while in some places in Colorado only 10 percent of oak aspen seedlings that were planted survived.

In China, coal mining has degraded the quality of land of an estimated 3.2 million hectares, according to a 2004 estimate. The overall restoration rate (the ratio of reclaimed land area to the total degraded land area) of mine wasteland was only about 10–12 percent.

Strip Mining - image sourced from article

Underground mining
The majority of the world’s coal is obtained through underground mines. While underground mining, which allows coal companies to extract deeper deposits of coal, is viewed as less destructive than strip mining, the effects of mining widespread damage to the environment. In room-and-pillar mines, columns of coal are left to support the ground above during the initial mining process, then they are often taken out and the mine is left to collapse, which is known as subsidence. In longwall mines, mechanical shearers strip the coal from the mines. Support structures that enable the shearers’ access to the mine are eventually removed, and the mine collapses. It is these effects of mining that nobody sees but are the most troubling of all.

Impacts of underground mining
*Underground mining causes huge amounts of waste earth and rock to be brought to the surface – waste that often becomes toxic when it comes into contact with air and water.
*It causes subsidence as mines collapse and the land above it starts to sink. This causes serious damage to buildings.
*It lowers the water table, changing the flow of groundwater and streams. In Germany for example, over 500 million cubic metres of water are pumped out of the ground every year. Only a small percentage of this is used by industry or local towns – the rest is wasted. What’s worse is that removing so much water creates a kind of funnel that drains water from an area much larger than the immediate coal-mining environment.
*Coal mining produces also greenhouse gas emissions.

Common health threats posed by coal mining:
*Pneumoconiosis, aka black lung disease or CWP, is caused when miners breathe in coal dust and carbon, which harden the lungs. Estimates show that 1,200 people in the US still die from black lung disease annually. The situation in developing countries is even worse.
*Cardiopulmonary disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, lung disease, and kidney disease have been found in higher-than-normal rates among residents who live near coal mines, according to a 2001 US study.
*Toxic levels of arsenic, fluorine, mercury, and selenium are emitted by coal fires, entering the air and the food chain of those living nearby.
*Mine collapses and accidents kill thousands of workers around the world every year. Chinese coal mine accidents killed 4,700 people in 2006.”


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

Dust Storms Becoming More Common In Australia

Dust Storms Becoming More Common In Australia – take a look at the article below and find out why.  Please follow the link to the original website to find more interesting links regarding this subject.


“Why dust storms appear to be becoming more common

By Rosemarie Lentini – 9 News – Australia 

A sea of red has blanketed the NSW town of Condobolin as a thick dust storm swept the state’s central west, a symptom of the drought gripping Australia.

Local residents shared incredible images of the red dust billowing over homes, fields and swimming pools yesterday afternoon.

“Dust storm out at Condo (Condobolin) this afternoon. Praying for rain for you folk out there,” Pj N Gj Fairfull shared on Facebook, alongside a snap of Condobolin Swimming Pool against a dramatic backdrop of red clouds.

Dust Storms Becoming More Common In Australia
Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior forecaster Jake Phillips said the dust storm was caused by high winds and thunderstorms in the area.

“There weren’t widespread incidents of raised dust. There were definitely some localised areas where the dust was kicked up and it was quite thick,” he told

“It would have been caused by a large degree of winds generated by thunderstorm activity in the area related to a front moving through the region.”

Mr Phillips said the dust storm was not picked up by BOM’s satellites and likely subsided after a few hours.

Yesterday’s dust storm follows recent spate of similar storms in eastern Australia, including one nearly two weeks ago that left more than 5000 homes in regional NSW without power.

Households in Griffith, Temora, Ariah Park and Barellan suffered power outages for several hours on January 8 as the dust storm bore down.

Just a week before, on New Year’s Eve, dust swallowed whole towns as it barrelled through NSW centres including Dubbo, Tullamore, Nyngan and Hermidale.

Social media users tagged their dust pictures with hashtags including “hothothot” and “cleanupcoming”, as Dubbo reached a top of 39C.

Dust storms are a cyclical phenomenon which occur when hot, dry wind, usually above 30km/hr, picks up dust and carries it from west to east as a cold front moves through.

Dr Craig Strong, a lecturer at the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society, said eastern Australia has experienced an increase in the frequency of dust activity over the past 10 years.

“The frequency is cyclic over longer time periods with episodes of strong dust activity occurring on 10 to 20 year cycles,” he said, adding that climate and land management are the two drivers for wind erosion.

“Ground cover, predominately vegetation cover, is critical in protecting soil from wind erosion. Drought naturally reduces available water and restricts plant growth. This then reduces vegetation cover increasing bare ground (exposed soil) and likelihood of dust,” he said.

Just a week before, on New Year’s Eve, dust swallowed whole towns as it barrelled through NSW centres including Dubbo, Tullamore, Nyngan and Hermidale.

Social media users tagged their dust pictures with hashtags including “hothothot” and “cleanupcoming”, as Dubbo reached a top of 39C.

Dust storms are a cyclical phenomenon which occur when hot, dry wind, usually above 30km/hr, picks up dust and carries it from west to east as a cold front moves through.

Dr Craig Strong, a lecturer at the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society, said eastern Australia has experienced an increase in the frequency of dust activity over the past 10 years.

“The frequency is cyclic over longer time periods with episodes of strong dust activity occurring on 10 to 20 year cycles,” he said, adding that climate and land management are the two drivers for wind erosion.

“Ground cover, predominately vegetation cover, is critical in protecting soil from wind erosion. Drought naturally reduces available water and restricts plant growth. This then reduces vegetation cover increasing bare ground (exposed soil) and likelihood of dust,” he said.”

For the full article, please follow the link provided.


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

Safer Mining Practices

Mining is a dangerous business!  It’s always good to hear of initiatives to help make this industry safer.  Here is an article found at about one of these initiatives.


“Safer Mining Practices Reduce Hazardous Exposures in Small Scale Mining in Nigeria

A pilot program to reduce lead poisoning in Nigerian gold mining communities has brought extraordinary improvements to an area where hundreds of children had died from lead poisoning according to a study published today. The study authors concluded that a two-year effort to introduce safer mining practices was effective at preventing deaths and reducing lead poisoning in highly exposed villages.

“Our pilot project demonstrated that low-cost dust control measures were effective at reducing average airborne lead exposures by 95 percent,” said Perry Gottesfeld, Executive Director of Occupational Knowledge International (OK International) whose organization partnered with Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in this effort.

The safer mining project took place in the Shakira community in Niger State where high levels of lead are naturally present in the gold ore. The primary objective was to reduce lead exposures among artisanal small-scale miners and minimize take home exposures.

“We worked cooperatively with miners to provide them with the information and tools to reduce their exposures to lead and silica dust. Together we showed that these efforts minimized contamination and helped save lives.” Gottesfeld said.

The organization demonstrated the effectiveness of reducing airborne lead levels by working with miners to convert dry operations to wet methods. Water spray misting was proven to be highly effective while minimizing water consumption. In addition to significant reductions in airborne lead, the authors reported that these control measures reduced the smaller respirable silica dust by 80%.

Philip Aruna, Head of Mission in Nigeria for Doctors Without Borders said “OK International has exceeded expectations in bringing an entire community together to prevent severe lead poisoning and by demonstrating significant reductions in lead exposures among miners.”

Gottesfeld noted that, “Following our extensive outreach and training, these miners were motivated to take measures to reduce hazardous lead exposures and invested their own time and money to implement these protective measures.”

The authors of the Study “Reducing Lead and Silica Dust Exposures in Small-Scale Mining in Northern Nigeria” published in Annals of Work Exposures and Health noted that average lead exposures among ore processors before the implementation of safer practices were 19 times greater than the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible limit for lead. (available online at: Nigeria and in most other African countries, there are no occupational limits for exposure for lead or silica dust.

Silica dust causes silicosis, lung cancer and is a significant risk factor for tuberculosis (TB). Lead causes severe neurological deficits and death among children in these communities, but even at low exposure levels is responsible for 674,000 deaths each year primarily due to cardiovascular disease.

There are an estimated 40 million informal small-scale miners working in at least 70 countries around the world. Although some programs have attempted to reduce mercury exposures in these communities, this is the first such intervention to demonstrate reductions in lead and silica dust exposures. The authors of the published article note that in mining communities lead and silica hazards pose a far greater risk to human health than the use of mercury.

Dr. Adolphe Fotso, Medical Coordinator for Nigeria with Doctors Without Borders, and an author on the paper, said “That this effort was an extraordinary success in reducing these significant health risks and protecting children from lead poisoning.”

In addition to introducing wet methods, OK International focused on training miners to implement simple measures including handwashing, showering, setting up separate eating areas, and changing out of work clothing before going home at the end of the day. The study estimated that the overall cost for introducing these measures in this community was approximately $5,000 USD.”


Who is OK International?

“Occupational Knowledge International (OK International) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public health through innovative strategies to reduce exposures to industrial pollutants. We seek to address inequities in environmental standards between developed and developing countries by working in partnership with industry, government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Millions of people around the world are exposed to hazardous materials including lead, mercury, silica and asbestos. Pollution from industrial operations contaminates the environment, causing millions of deaths and rampant disease throughout the world. But the burden of environmental disease is not evenly shared. Exposures to hazardous materials is growing in developing countries in contrast to the trend in the U.S. and Western Europe. Our goal is to bridge the gap between environmental standards in the developed and the developing world.

However, bringing attention to these problems is not enough. OK International also brings the technical resources to measure exposures, find solutions, and clean up the environment in order to protect public health.”


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

Safer Mining Practices

The impact of dust aerosols on cyclone activity

With the recent cyclone in Mozambique and the huge floods in KZN it’s interesting to read this article on the impact that aerosols have on monsoon rainfall in India.  Could the same sort of thing be affecting the rainfall on the west coast of Africa?  And then also, do cyclones affect dust fallout?  Take a look at these articles below – for the full articles, please click on the links provided.

_______________________________ Geoscience

“The Indian summer monsoon is influenced by numerous factors, including aerosol-induced changes to clouds, surface and atmospheric heating, and atmospheric circulation. Most previous studies assessing the effect of aerosols on monsoon rainfall have focussed on the local impact of aerosols on precipitation on monthly to seasonal timescales. Here, we show that desert dust aerosol levels over the Arabian Sea, West Asia and the Arabian Peninsula are positively correlated with the intensity of the Indian summer monsoon, using satellite data and models; a lead–lag analysis indicates that dust and precipitation vary in concert over timescales of about a week. Our analysis of global climate model simulations indicates that by heating the atmosphere, dust aerosols induce large-scale convergence over North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, increasing the flow of moisture over India within a week. According to these simulations, dust-induced heating of the atmosphere over North Africa and West Asia rapidly modulates monsoon rainfall over central India.”

Click the link for the full article.

Image from - In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019 and provided by the International Red Cross, an aerial view of the destruction of homes after Tropical Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique. Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi says that more than 1,000 may have by killed by Cyclone Idai, which many say is the worst in more than 20 years. Speaking to state Radio Mozambique, Nyusi said Monday, March 18 that although the official death count is currently 84, he believes the toll will be more than 1,000. (Denis Onyodi/IFRC via AP)

Image from

New evidence for a relationship between Atlantic tropical cyclone activity and African dust outbreaks Gate

“It is well known that Atlantic tropical cyclone activity varies strongly over time, and that summertime dust transport over the North Atlantic also varies from year to year, but any connection between tropical cyclone activity and atmospheric dust has been limited to a few case studies. Here we report new results that demonstrate a strong relationship between interannual variations in North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity and atmospheric dust cover as measured by satellite, for the years 1982 – 2005. While we cannot conclusively demonstrate a direct causal relationship, there appears to be robust link between tropical cyclone activity and dust transport over the Tropical Atlantic.

The recent upswing in Atlantic tropical cyclones(including both hurricanes and tropical storms) affectingNorth America has raised the awareness of their impact onsociety and the economy. Currently, there is a debatesurrounding the cause of this observed increase in cycloneactivity. Several recent studies have explored the relation-ship between long– term trends in tropical cyclone activity(either in terms of their number or intensity) and environ-mental factors that may or may not be influenced byglobal warming [Emanuel, 2005a, 2005b; Landsea, 2005;Trenberth, 2005; Webster e t al. , 2005]. Other studies,however, have concluded that different environmentalfactors – not necessarily related to global warming –control trends in cyclone activity [Goldenberg et al., 2001;Knutson and Tuleya, 2004].[3] In this paper, we explore another possible contributorto changing North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity: the role of atmospheric dust. This hypothesis was first suggested byDunion and Velden [2004], who showed that tropicalcyclone activity may be influenced by the presence of theSaharan Air Layer, which forms when a warm, well-mixed,dry and dusty layer over West Africa is advected over thelow-level moist air of the tropical North Atlantic [Carlsonand Prospero, 1972]. The Saharan Air Layer rides over themarine boundary layer and can be a significant feature ofthe atmosphere as it transits over the North Atlantic, oftenseen as far away as the Caribbean (7,000 km west of theSahara Desert) [Dunion and Velden, 2004]. The Saharan AirLayer’s longevity is likely enhanced by the persistenttemperature inversions that exist at its base and top: daytimethermal heating by dust entrained within the Saharan AirLayer tends to counter nighttime radiative cooling, thuskeeping the Saharan Air Layer relatively warm and stable asit traverses the North Atlantic [Prospero and Carlson,1972].”

Click the link for the full article.


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

Fallout Dust Monitoring course – June 2019

Good day

The next Fallout Dust Monitoring course is in June 2019 in Pretoria

11 – 13 June 2019 – Pretoria

The costs are in the attached files, R4400 per person per day.

If you would like to attend or to send a representative, then please email or call 021 789 0847 or 082 875 0209 to reserve a place.

Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding any queries, comments, or suggestions.


Chris Loans

DustWatch CC – Precipitant Dust Monitoring

082 875 0209 or 021 789 0847 (Chris)

083 308 4764 (Gerry)

021 789 0847 (Cape Town)

011 083 8750 (Johannesburg)

+1 832 422 5031 (USA)

0866 181 421 (Fax – SA Only)


To be removed from this list, simply reply with Remove at the front of the Subject line.

Cyclone Idai and Africa’s fossil fuel extraction

Landry Ninteretse of The Guardian (follow this link for the full article), made the statement (in March 2019) that fossil fuel extraction must end before more lives are lost due to storms and flooding in Africa.


Cyclone Idai shows the deadly reality of climate change in Africa
Landry Ninteretse

Vain promises and empty slogans have got us nowhere. Fossil-fuel extraction must end before more lives are lost.

As Africa climate week unfurls in Ghana, the countries of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe count the costs of Cyclone Idai, which ripped through villages and towns, taking hundreds of lives and leaving a trail of destruction.

For a continent already racked by the effects of the climate crisis, Idai is another chilling reminder of the destructive power of the kind of storms that will become more common as the world warms up.

The cyclone made landfall on 14 March, the same day that the One Planet Summit started in Nairobi, called by French president Emmanuel Macron. After picking up speed, with winds of 195km/h (120mph) accompanied by lashing rains, Idai caused flooding and landslides, ruining crops and roads, and has already affected millions of people. The city of Beira in Mozambique was hit the hardest, with nearly 80% of homes and public infrastructure destroyed.

While the most vulnerable communities are facing the real impact of climate change on the ground, national leaders at the One Planet Summit kept their talk inside comfortable and acclimatised rooms. During the summit, Macron encouraged global collaboration towards ensuring sustainable preservation of forests, and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya made a pledge to achieve at least 10% forest cover in the next three years.

These commitments would be laughable if it were not so tragic. Africa needs to do a lot more than that to build climate resilience. Cyclone Idai is another powerful demonstration of this.

While many countries appear to be already reducing carbon emissions and moving towards an energy transition, Africa’s coalfields are open for business. Along with a few Asian countries (Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh in particular), our continent continues to be an El Dorado for the coal cheerleaders and big business determined to carry on its coal-onisation. New plants are being planned from South Africa to Senegal, from Kenya to Mozambique, as well as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Côte d’Ivoire. Most of them are co-financed by the African Development Bank, on whose board sit members of African, European, North and South American and Asian governments.

This is the case for the coal-fired power plant projects in Bargny (in the suburbs of Dakar, Senegal), San-Pédro (Côte d’Ivoire), Lamu (Kenya), or the Thabametsi power station in Limpopo province, South Africa, near the border with Botswana.

The situation is pretty similar for the oil industry, a source of energy that continues to attract investors in Africa, a continent that accounts for 8% of global production, with 7.5m barrels a day. Despite the drop in the price of oil over the last five years, new players are added yearly to the list of majors companies, such as Total, Shell, Exxon, BP and Eni.

In Uganda, for example, a new field will be exploited, the fruit of the cooperation between Total, the Chinese company CNOOC, and the British company Tullow Oil. Perenco, a French-British company, has just set up in Gabon and DRC and plans to produce half a million barrels a day. In February 2019, Total announced the huge offshore discovery of gas-condensate and light oil in South Africa, which could contain 1bn barrels of total resources.

Even though Africa is estimated to produce just 4% of global carbon emissions – compared to 80% by the most industrialised countries (G20), it is the continent that pays the highest price. For us, climate change is not a future risk, it’s already a reality evident in wrecked families, lands and livelihoods, and hopeless children and young people who have no choice but to seek a future by migrating.

Everywhere on the continent, communities fear losing their land as each season hits one country after another with exceptional floods, unexpected storms and increasingly long droughts. Fauna and flora reserves have been running out, access to water has become a privilege, and extreme weather events have become more numerous and left families without homes or livelihoods.

Some assume that increasing forest cover or granting new billions in funding to governments plagued by bad governance and corruption will prevent such disasters from happening and solve the issue of global warming. This is an insult to people facing untold suffering in every corner of the continent, while new coal and mining infrastructure and carbon commodification continue to be allowed.

The proliferation of fossil-fuel projects is happening at the expense of people’s health, the climate and ecosystems. Yet the solutions to this crisis are also well known. They include ending coal extraction and mining, stopping the funding of new coal infrastructure – mines or power plants – and accelerating the investment in renewables.

International cooperation and funding from industrialised economies are necessary to combat climate change. And such efforts should start by not promoting or funding any fossil fuel projects anywhere in the world.”

Cyclone Idai and Africa's fossil fuel extraction - image from The Guardian


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

Review of the Mining Charter 2018

In March 2019, the Minerals Council released the following media statements regarding their application to review the Mining Charter.  For more information, please follow the link to the Minerals Council website.



Johannesburg, 27 March 2019: The Minerals Council South Africa advises that it filed an
application for the judicial review and setting aside of certain clauses of the 2018 Mining
Charter published by the Minister of Mineral Resources on 27 September 2018.

A decision to pursue this action was very reluctantly taken by the Minerals Council Board.
The Minerals Council has engaged in ongoing attempts to reach a compromise with the
Minister on certain provisions that are problematic for the industry, and which would be
detrimental to its sustainability. The Minerals Council has delayed bringing the application in
the hope that those discussions would be successful but, given the peremptory 180-day time
bar imposed by section 7(1) of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA), the
Minerals Council was obliged to launch the review proceedings on 26 March 2019, despite
the fact that the discussions are ongoing and may yet bear fruit.

Minerals Council CEO, Roger Baxter, notes that: “The Minerals Council and its members
remain fully committed to transformation of the mining sector in South Africa, with the aim of
achieving job creation, economic growth, competitiveness and social upliftment and
development. A transformed, growing and competitive mining sector would be a significant
catalyst for South Africa’s social and economic development and critical for the realisation of
the ambitions of the National Development Plan.

“But these goals will only be realised through a minerals policy framework that conforms to
the rule of law and principles of legality; and by administrative action which is lawful,
reasonable and procedurally fair and consistent in all respects with provisions of the
country’s legislation. The rule of law, regulatory certainty and the fair and even-handed
administration of laws are of the utmost importance in sustaining the mining industry, and
indeed the economy as a whole.”

For the full statement, go to the Minerals Council website and follow the links from there.

Review of the Mining Charter 2018


Johannesburg, 6 March 2019. Minerals Council South Africa CEO, Roger Baxter presented at the
annual PDAC convention in Toronto, Canada on 5 March. Mr Baxter’s presentation, titled: Enabling
the Renaissance of the South African mining sector, outlined the important contribution made by the
mining sector, the vast potential that still exists and the steps needed to enable South African mining
to realise its full potential.

Mr Baxter said: “The economic and transformational potential of mining is vast. Even in the absence
of a greenfields exploration boom in South Africa, mining investment could almost double in the next
four years if the country was to return to the top quartile of the most attractive mining investment
destinations. Given the industry’s commitment to real transformation, this would also materially
advance the entire country’s transformation agenda.”

Mr Baxter commented on the most recent Fraser Institute perceptions survey: “The significant
improvement from being close to the bottom decile of the Policy Perception Index (PPI) league table
at 81st out of 91 jurisdictions, to about two-thirds of the way down at 56th position out of 83 can, we
believe, be attributed to the early impacts of the shift of political leadership of the country and of the
industry in 2018 of President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.”
Mr Baxter outlined the Minerals Council’s view on steps needed to restore the South African mining
sector to the top quartile of the most competitive mining jurisdictions, including:

• Developing a social pact for competitiveness, growth and transformation between key
• Re-establishing trust with global mining and investment community.
• Significant crackdown on corruption and unethical leadership.
• Significantly improving licensing systems and turnaround times
• Creating a stable, predictable and competitive policy, regulatory and operating environment
that encourages long term investment in mining.
• Resolving Infrastructure constraints and uncompetitive costs.
• Developing a strategy to encourage exploration boom.
• Developing national strategies for each commodity.

The full presentation may be accessed at

For the full statement, go to the Minerals Council website and follow the links from there.


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

Hitching a Ride on Dust

Dust is not just made up of non-living elements – tiny microbes are catching a ride on dust particles and they are travelling the world!

Please click the links provided to read the full articles.

Hitching a Ride on Dust

Up in the Air: The Emerging Science of Dust and Sandstorm Microbes

Oxford Academic – GBE

Casey McGrath

On October 13, 2017, a sandstorm blew off the west coast of Africa, creating a plume of dust that stretched thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean and reached the Caribbean five days later. Each year, up to five billion tons of dust is ejected into the earth’s atmosphere, mostly from large deserts like the Sahara in Africa and the Gobi in Asia. Such dust plumes affect all regions of the planet, with some individual plumes even circling the globe.

In an expanding field of environmental microbiology, researchers have begun investigating the microscopic travelers that hitch rides on these dust plumes and transit the globe. Because of their origins in harsh desert climates, these bacteria, archaea, microbial eukaryotes (including fungi), and viruses may be especially good at surviving extreme conditions and adapting to new environments. As researchers in this emerging field, Hayedeh Behzad, Katsuhiko Mineta, and Takashi Gojobori of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia provide an overview of current knowledge and highlight the potential impacts on human and ecosystem health in a new review in Genome Biology and Evolution, “Global Ramifications of Dust and Sandstorm Microbiota” (Behzad et al. 2018). One thing that is clear is that, for a field of study still in its infancy, its potential ramifications are massive.

Behzad and colleagues detail several studies that indicate that dust and sandstorms may enable the spread of disease-causing microbes. For example, the fungal agents that cause valley fever can be found in desert soils, and epidemics in the southern United States appear to be correlated with the intensification of sandstorms (Tong et al. 2017). Perhaps more surprisingly, increased incidence of Kawasaki disease, a serious heart condition, in Japanese and U.S. children may be associated with a fungus found in winds originating from China (Rodo et al. 2014). Cases of measles (Ma et al. 2017), pulmonary tuberculosis (Wang et al. 2016), and influenza (Chen et al. 2010) may also be linked to the occurrence of dust and sandstorms. Finally, in a study suggesting just how far-reaching this phenomenon may be, several genetic sequences potentially belonging to meningitis pathogens were found in Saharan dust deposits within snow packs in the Swiss Alps (Meola et al. 2015).

As further detailed in the review by Behzad and colleagues, dust and sandstorm-derived microorganisms also have the potential to significantly affect the ecosystems to which these microbes are transported. Deposits of such microbes could impact the ecosystem services provided by microbial communities, affecting nutrient cycling and food chains. Notably, Saharan-derived dust samples in the Caribbean were found to contain Aspergillus sydowii, a fungus that infects corals and may be partially responsible for the declining health of the Caribbean coral reef (Garrison et al. 2003). In addition, pathogens carried by sandstorms may infect agricultural crops, with major implications for the global economy.

Teruya Maki at Kanazawa University in Japan, author of several studies on sandstorm-derived microbes, agrees with Behzad, Mineta, and Gojobori regarding the potential risks of these organisms: “Although the microbial communities associated with dust events are mainly composed of nonharmful populations…there is the possibility of pandemics [caused by] the spread of pathogens after the deposition of dust particles.” Maki, who discovered a link between Japanese outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and Chinese sandstorms (Maki et al. 2012), believes the review by Behzad et al. provides important information regarding the potential risks of such microbes to the general public. However, Maki also points out that among dust and sandstorm microbes, there may be species that provide benefits to humans as well. As an example, Maki’s research team has made a fermented food called natto using bacteria isolated from the air at 3,000 m, which is currently sold under the name “Sky Natto” in Japan.

The potential impacts of dust and sandstorm microbes make research in this field critical. Located at KAUST and surrounded by some of the largest deserts in the world, Behzad, Mineta, and Gojobori are well situated to investigate these microorganisms using cutting-edge technology. “Our laboratory is examining the potential impact of sandstorms on human health and the environment using metagenomic approaches,” notes Behzad on behalf of all three of the authors, an endeavor made possible by the state-of-the-art facilities at KAUST. While the majority of the current knowledge on this topic is derived from culture-based approaches, such technology has the potential to shed light on the ∼90% of environmental microbes that cannot currently be cultured.

In addition to advances in metagenomics, the authors anticipate that future research will benefit from improvements in culturing techniques and air sample collection. In particular, Behzad notes, “I would hope that within a decade or two, we would have sufficient tools necessary to explore airborne microbiomes at all levels of the atmosphere, not just when deposited on the surface.” Most importantly, however, Behzad, Mineta, and Gojobori believe that the establishment of large-scale, multidisciplinary collaborations across different laboratories will be key for unraveling the mysteries of this global phenomenon. “Unification of standardized methodological frameworks across different laboratories could facilitate reproducibility and comparison of data between different research communities. Such unified frameworks require considerable investments of time and resources to develop and perfect, but when used by the wider research community, they could help complete gaps in our current understanding of sandstorm-derived microbiota.”

Importantly, Behzad et al. point out that the study of these microbes and their impacts is especially urgent given the predicted increase in dust and sandstorm-related activity in the future due to global climate change. The authors note that over the past two decades, the number and intensity of the sandstorms in the region surrounding KAUST have been on the rise. Thus, a better understanding of the risks and effects of desertification may help to develop control measures or protective policies. Microbes are “necessary building blocks of living ecosystems,” concludes Behzad. “Studying them helps us unlock their potential and understand their influence on us. Studies of airborne microbiota enable us to monitor our environment for potential risks to human and ecosystem health.”


“Traveling Dust

Science Net Links

It may surprise you that dust can travel this far, but it can. Using some NASA satellites, such as the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer, scientists like Griffin can actually follow the path of dust clouds that form over the Sahara and cross the Atlantic Ocean.

How do these dust clouds make it across the sea? It seems that the same winds that push hurricanes across the Atlantic actually push the clouds of dust as well. It takes about 5-7 days for the dust clouds to move from the Sahara to the Caribbean and southeastern United States. But America doesn’t get hit from just Africa. It also gets dust from the Asian deserts. Once a cloud rolls off the coast of China, it takes about 9 days for it to move across the Pacific and arrive in the United States.

The dust clouds themselves are actually very large. In fact, they’re huge. They extend from the sea surface to as high as 10 kilometers. Griffin and his colleagues believe that the upper portions of the dust clouds serve to filter out UV light, which is lethal to microorganisms. As a result, the microbes at the lower levels are shielded from the light and survive the voyage. Scientists have found as many as 20-40 colonies of bacteria growing in some of these dust clouds. In addition to the bacteria, they also see virus-like particles that could infect plants and animals. According to the National Institutes of Health, airborne dust is a number one cause of respiratory stress worldwide, even without the microorganisms that are present in the dust clouds. So if it turns out that these microbes are able to cause diseases, that’s all the more reason to keep an eye on the levels of dust in the air.”


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

Dust Cycles

Some interesting research paper’s on dust and it’s cycles – both here and on Mars.  Links to the original articles are provided.


Dust cycle: An emerging core theme in Earth system science

Science Direct

“The dust cycle is an integral part of the Earth system. Each year, an estimated 2000 Mt dust is emitted into the atmosphere, 75% of which is deposited to the land and 25% to the ocean. The emitted and deposited dust participates in a range physical, chemical and bio-geological processes that interact with the cycles of energy, carbon and water. Dust profoundly affects the energy balance of the Earth system, carries organic material, contributes directly to the carbon cycle and carries iron which is vital to ocean productivity and the ocean-atmosphere CO2 exchange.

A deciphering of dust sources, transport and deposition, requires an understanding of the geological controls and climate states – past, present and future. While our knowledge of the dust cycle, its impacts and interactions with the other global-scale bio-geochemical cycles has greatly advanced in the last 30 years, large uncertainties and knowledge gaps still exist. In this review paper, we attempt to provide a benchmark of our present understanding, identify the needs and emphasise the importance of placing the dust issue in the Earth system framework.

Our review focuses on (i) the concept of the dust cycle in the context of global biogeochemical cycles; (ii) dust as a climate indicator; (iii) dust modelling; (iv) dust monitoring; and (v) dust parameters. The adoption of a quantitative and global perspective of the dust cycle, underpinned by a deeper understanding of its physical controls, will lead to the reduction of the large uncertainties which presently exist in Earth system models.”

To read the full article, click the link above.


Climate Cycles

Space Science – Nasa Ames

“The seasonal cycles of carbon dioxide (CO2), dust and water (H2O) couple to radiative and dynamical processes to produce the climate of Mars.

“One of our group’s main research goals is to further our understanding of carbon dioxide, dust and water cycles, the interactions between them, and how they have evolved throughout the history of Mars.”


Dust is a critically important component of Mars’ climate.

Dust is lifted from the surface, mixed and transported by the atmosphere, and pulled back to the surface by gravity. When dust is airborne, it affects the radiative balance of the atmosphere by absorbing and scattering visible light and absorbing and radiating in the infrared. Martian dust events have been observed to range in size from just meters across to hemisphere- or planet-encircling.

A low-level background haze of dust characterizes the atmosphere dust loading during northern spring and summer, while higher dust loadings dominate during northern fall and winter. Although the global atmospheric dust loading generally exhibits cyclic behavior, the dust cycle has the most year-to-year variability of the three climate cycles. The most dramatic example of this interannual variability is the presence of global dust storms that occur during some years and not others.”


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

Dust Cycles