Measuring the impact of air quality management

Dust from mineral deposition sites and transportation from mines has made an imprint on the urban air in Callao, Peru. When measures were introduced to modernise mineral management, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, SMHI, was commissioned to design a new station network for measuring the air quality.

Situated in a central location at the port of Callao, Peru, there are large deposition sites where mineral dust from mines is stockpiled on an intermediate basis prior to further transportation for loading on board ships. The mineral dust contains, among other substances, lead and other hazardous air particles. The deposition sites are situated near housing areas and schools, and in 2009 action was taken to modernise the way minerals were being handled. The work was directed by Peru’s supervisory body for the energy and mining sector, OSINERGMIN.

“They were faced with the prospect of extensive change management in connection with the handling of minerals, in terms of both the deposition sites themselves but also for the transportation of minerals to and from the sites,” says Leandra Caldarulo, an air environment consultant at SMHI.

“SMHI was commissioned, on the one hand, to develop a tool for measuring the impact of the changes and, on the other, for building up a system that could be used on a continuous basis as a control instrument”.

Compare the level of pollution then, now and in the future

The local measuring system that was developed registers both meteorological parameters and at the same time measures the air pollutants lead and PM10 (small particles that can penetrate down into the lungs).

“We designed the measuring system so that it would be possible to evaluate the changes in air quality in different areas and to be able to differentiate between various sources with the aid of dispersion calculations,” says Leandra.

With the help of data from an existing measuring system, historical pollutants were modelled. SMHI also developed a future scenario that includes the modernisation of mineral management. The model used is part of SMHI’s air environment system Airviro.

Dispersion simulation in Airviro
Dust from processes and transports is a common problem in mining. The picture illustrates the dispersion of particles from Los Tortalas mine in Chile. Using SMHI´s air quality management system Airviro, the mining impacts on air quality was evaluated.