Dust Management

QBH complies with the Queensland Government’s environmental legislation relevant to the operation of its port facility, including the “Environmental Protection Act 1994”. The company undertakes proactive air quality monitoring at sites located on its port facility’s boundary and between its port facility and the suburb of Wynnum North.

Coal shipped by QBH has comparatively low levels of dust, especially when compared with coal from central Queensland. This low level of dust generation is because Darling Downs coal is harder than other coals and less likely to produce fine material when handled. 

Dust Monitoring

Air quality (dust) monitoring stations provide the ability to assess whether there may be potential dust impacts on surrounding communities.  Over the past 30 years of ship loading operations at QBH’s port facility there has been no evidence of significant dust levels occurring adjacent to the coal terminal, or further afield.

QBH is required to meet the strict conditions specified in its Environmental Authority (EA) issued by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP). For dust deposition and airborne PM10 particulates, QBH’s port facility is required to comply with the EA limits of 120 mg/m2/day and 150 µg/m3 (24 hour period), respectively. Air quality objectives are also specified in Schedule 1 of the Environmental Protection (Air) Policy 2008.

Monitoring Locations

There are currently four compliance monitoring sites for dust deposition and PM10 airborne particulates – Sites 1 to 4 (see image below). These compliance monitoring sites are established between the QBH facility, DEHP and the nearest sensitive receptors at Wynnum North.

The dust deposition monitors have operated on a permanent basis since establishment in 2013. The PM10 monitoring campaigns have been undertaken when prevailing winds were most likely to blow towards the nearest sensitive receptors at Wynnum North.

The dust deposition and PM10 particulate monitoring programs were both conducted in accordance with their applicable Australian Standard and were managed by an independent environmental professional.  QBH continues to consult regularly with the DEHP in relation to the operation of its air quality monitoring program.

It is important to note that QBH is located within an industrial area and that other local or regional sources may also contribute to any dust exceedances recorded or reported. 

Monitoring locations surrounding the QBH facility

Compliance Monitoring Results

Dust Deposition

The following graphs summarise the monthly dust deposition data for QBH at the compliance monitoring sites in 2018 and 2019.  The monitoring showed:

  • The dust deposition rates at all the compliance monitoring sites were below the dust deposition criterion (120 mg/m2/day) during the monitoring period.
  • The reported coal fraction at the compliance monitoring sites was generally 10% or less.
  • QBH operations are not resulting in nuisance impacts at sensitive receptors.

Click to enlarge images.


Click to enlarge image.

Click here to view previous monitoring results

Key points from the compliance monitoring:

  • The dust deposition rates at all the compliance monitoring sites (Sites 1,2,3 and 4) were below the dust deposition criterion (120 mg/m2/day) during the monitoring period.

  • The reported coal fraction at the compliance monitoring sites (Sites 1, 2, 3 and 4) was generally 10% or less.

  • Please note, there is a lag in the provision of the dust deposition monitoring results due to the laboratory time required for the dust compositional analysis, which is necessary to determine the coal content of each monthly sample collected.
  • Importantly, QBH’s dust deposition monitoring continues to demonstrate that its coal handling operations are not causing significant impacts or dust nuisance off site, particularly in relation to the nearest sensitive receptors at Wynnum North.

PM10 Particulates

The following graph summarises the PM10 particulate data for the period of October 2015 to December 2015.  The monitoring showed:

  • PM10 concentrations at the compliance monitoring sites were below the EA limit (150 µg/m3).
  • PM10 concentrations at Site 1 were below the PM10 objective in the EPP (Air) (50 µg/m3).
  • PM10 concentrations at Site 4 were generally below the PM10 objective in the EPP (Air) (50 µg/m3). One PM10 concentration of 59 µg/m3 (potentially influenced by major earthworks 100m from the monitoring location) was recorded on 23/11/2015.

Click to enlarge image.

Older data.


Operational Controls

Extensive dust suppression and monitoring initatives are in place at QBH

QBH uses several controls to manage the potential for dust. These include:

  • Using sprinklers on overhead gantries and coal stacker to wet down stockpile surfaces if dust is noticed
  • A street sweeper has been purchased to maintain all sealed surfaces
  • Water cart availability on-site for dust management
  • Monitoring high hopper alarm to idenitfy possible overflowers from in-load hoppers, to avoid coal being transferred into the adjacent ballast or built-up on the wagon wheels and axles
  • Hopper level radars to minimise the falling height of the coal from the wagon, when the train is being unloaded
  • VIPA visbility monitor dust levels in real time at the train unloading facility. Unloading activity shall immediately by halted if undue levels of dust are detected. QBH contacts the relevant coal supplier to advise them of the issue and ceases unloading until the coal suppliers implement remedial actions
  • A sophisticated dust forecasting system (WeatherZone) is used on site. This creates a dust index which considers wind, speed, temperature and recent rainfall data. This helps in planning coal movements to avoid high wind conditions
  • A 3D LIDAR (radar sensor) system is used to ensure that there is no coal left in the wagons after loading
  • Minimising bulldozer movements to prevent excessive coal stockpile disturbance
  • Maintaining fully closed elevated coal conveyors
  • Moisture analyser (microwave) to measure coal moisture content to ensure mitigation strategies can be implemented in a timely fashion
  • Video monitoring to ensure satisfactory coal unloading processes
  • Assessing the risk of coal dust impacts and implementing controls where required
  • Use of the QBH Environmental Management System to achieve continuous improvement in dust management
  • Contributing to proactive initiatives, such as the Coal Dust Management Plan, South West System, September 2013 

The Queensland Government's recent monitoring along the Western - Metropolitan Rail System found that dust levels along the rail corridor did not exceed environmental standards over two months. It also found dust levels were similar to, or lower than, those recorded at non-rail sites in Brisbane.

For more information about air quality monitoring please click here.

Water sprayers operating at the Queensland Bulk Handling facility.

3D LIDAR radar sensor system

3D LIDAR (radar sensor) system

Hopper Level Radar

Hopper Level Radar

Moisture Analyser                                              VIPA Visibility Monitor