Mining, mineral processing and the Mount Isa Community: Our Air Quality Monitors

Given our close proximity to the Mount Isa township, we invest significant resources into specialised controls and measures to manage air emissions and dust to reduce exposure to our people and the community.

Our Air Quality Control (AQC) Centre undertakes day-to-day air monitoring and management activities to ensure we operate responsibly to meet our regulatory requirements.

Residents are generally located within 1,200 metres of one of the 13 monitoring stations located across Mount Isa that feed information 24 hours a day, seven days a week to AQC.

Senior Air Quality and Noise Advisor Kelly Malone says the real-time air quality data comes from a range of monitoring systems located throughout the town, including sulphur dioxide monitors, dust and metal compliance monitors.

"We have 12 real-time sulphur dioxide monitors across the city and one at May Downs Station, that assist our Air Quality Control team in managing unfavourable weather conditions and reducing emissions from our operations," says Kelly.

"There are six passive sulphur dioxide monitors outside the immediate Mount Isa community that also measure sulphur dioxide results on a monthly basis across a wider area."

"This information is used to track trends and average results over time to ensure we operate within the set regulatory limits," Kelly says.

In addition, there are more than 20 dust and metal compliance monitors, made up of high volume air sampling monitors, dust deposition gauges, continuous dust monitors and Xact Metals monitors that also provide reliable data which is used to improve the way we operate.

High volume air sampling monitors collect samples of air particles to determine the concentration levels of emissions, including lead and other metals over a 24 hour period.

Dust deposition gauges measure the levels of industrial and naturally occurring dust and metals that settles on the ground from the surrounding air.

Kelly says the use of continuous dust monitors provide hourly readings for background dust levels in the region and the levels of dust that can be contributed to our operations.

"We also have Xact Metals monitors which continuously identify and measure metal concentrations in the air on an hourly basis," says Kelly.

"From this we can determine the time of day when there are peak metal concentrations, and when the results are used in combination with meteorological data, we can identify the source of metal emissions which helps us to make changes to improve our performance, says Kelly."

This intensive monitoring program goes beyond our compliance monitoring requirements and ensures we accurately measure, manage and reduce air quality impacts so that we can maintain our operations while minimising community exposure to emissions and dust.