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CFD modeling of air flow in an openpit mine

Mining Engineering , 2012, Vol. 64, No. 2, pp. 44-50

Collingwood, W.; Raj, K. V.; Choudhury, A.; Bandopadhyay, S.


As openpit mines continue to grow deeper and productivity continues to increase, the management of respirable dust and noxious gases can become a challenge. The natural wind flow in openpit mines is often recirculatory. This recirculation traps dust and gases in deep openpit mines. This problem is particularly acute in high-latitude openpit mines, due to a phenomenon known as atmospheric inversion. In the winter, arctic and subarctic regions experience short days and long nights. This deficit of solar radiation creates a situation in which cold, still air accumulates near the bottom of the pit. In openpit mines, this can result in unhealthy accumulations of gases and other contaminants. In this study, the natural wind flow patterns in and around openpit mines were investigated using a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) program. Two-dimensional models were created for a variety of pit geometries. The effect of depth, slope angle and wind speed on the recirculation pattern in the pit was examined.