Both safety and environmental sustainability are pivotal issues for any successful mine management strategy. Mines are constantly under pressure and scrutiny to improve their workplace safety practices. Similarly, the pressure on mines to step up their environmental sustainability goals has never been greater. 

The Deliotte ‘Tracking the Trends in 2021’ report, which tracks key trends in the mining industry each year, notes how it’s important for mines to balance short-term economic factors with long-term environmental impacts. It also points out to the importance of comprehensive environmental protection plans in bridging the trust gap between mines and their communities. 

Commenting based on personal observation, Michael Greelish, National Account Manager Mining at CBC, says the tendency to purchase environmentally safe cleaning products has been growing in the mining sector. As national account manager with one of Australia’s largest industrial suppliers, Michael interacts frequently with maintenance managers and HSE managers across major mines in the country. 

Michael’s observation is shared by Steve Keown, CBC’s National Product Manager for Lubricants and Lubricating Products.

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve seen increased acceptance for products that target environmental issues or minimise risk to staff or infrastructure. Our role at CBC is to make sure those products are properly introduced and made available to our mining customers,” says Steve.

CRC Industries is one manufacturer with an impressive portfolio of environmentally friendly and safe cleaning solutions. Products such as the CRC SmartWasher, CRC Bio-Degreaser, CRC Natural Degreaser, CRC Sanitising Fogger and non-flammable cleaning products such as the CRC NF Contact Cleaner are all products with clear environmental and safety benefits for end users. 

CRC Bio-Degreaser

David Bailey, National Business Development Manager Mining at CRC Australia says the company has a clear vision to introduce greener solutions that help industries tackle grime and grease, while adhering to their goals of sustainability and safety regulations.

Water discharge from the mines’ cleaning activities is one area where CRC products can make a difference. 

When engines, motors, generators or other mechanical equipment and parts are washed, normal degreasers dissolve hydrocarbons in water in the form of emulsion. Products such as the CRC Bio-Degreaser, however, work differently. Being a quick-break degreaser, the CRC De-Greaser separates the oil droplets from the emulsion, preventing the oil from being released into the environment.

“What this means essentially is that if you use a hundred litres of water to wash an engine, without a quick-break cleaning formula, all of that water will be contaminated with grease and will go to waste. Whereas a product like the CRC Bio-Degreaser helps separate the oil and other contaminants from the water. Both the cleaning product and the excess water can then be diverted to a water treatment plant without any trace of hydrocarbon contamination,” explains David.

CRC SmartWasher

The CRC SmartWasher Bioremediating parts washing system is another highly popular product in the mining industry. In fact, David says the mining sector is by far the biggest buyer of the innovative part cleaner.

And for good reason too. By using bioremediating technology and an environmentally friendly cleaning fluid, known as OzzyJuice®, the CRC SmartWasher offers a solvent-free method of cleaning greasy parts, and in that it combines multiple safety and sustainability benefits. In this solution, first contaminants and oil particles are separated from water with the help of the OzzyJuice liquid and then microbes entrapped in the filters eat the grease that leaves the tank clean and contaminant-free.

“The CRC SmartWasher is a great alternative to the traditional solvent-based parts cleaners,” says Steve Keown. “Being water-based and NSF A1 approved, the OzzyJuice is a lot kinder on the users’ skin than solvent-based cleaners. It’s also non-flammable, which is a big advantage for mines. Especially given the high risk of fire with kerosene-based cleaners. Add to that the economic benefits of not having to replace the cleaning fluid every month and you have a product that ticks all the boxes for safety and environmental friendliness.” 

More recently, CRC has introduced the SW-X1 OzzyJuice, which is particularly targeted at mining industry end users. David says the new OzzyJuice helps tackle hard-to-remove adhesives and lubricants found particularly in mining and some other industries such as rail. 

CRC Contact Cleaners

The CRC CO Contact Cleaner is among the most popular cleaning products in mines. CRC offers this cleaner in three main varieties, including the basic CO Contact Cleaner, the non-flammable NF Contact Cleaner and the PF Precision Cleaner. 

“Flammability is a big concern, not just in underground mines, but even in the workshop environment where you can get sparks from electrical or grinding equipment. So, there’s a general move towards non-flammable products, where they can be made available. The CRC NF Contact Cleaner is one of the most popular CRC products in that space and one of our biggest selling items into the mining industry. Also, the PF Precision Cleaner is currently the only non-flammable plastic safe contact cleaner available in the marketplace,” says David.

CRC Natural Degreaser

When equipment such as draglines are decommissioned for overhaul and repair, heavy duty cleaning products such as the CRC Natural Degreaser offer an effective way to remove thick residual grease on the equipment. 

“The CRC Natural Degreaser is unique in that it’s the only organic degreaser with the cleaning power to remove greases such as the blackjack grease, otherwise known as the bitumen grease. The formulation for CRC Natural Degreaser contains 60% D-Limonene, which is a citrus-based natural heavy-duty cleaner. The product is also NSF C1 registered and safe for all day-to-day cleaning and de-greasing purposes,” says David.

CRC Sanitiser Fogger

Recently, CRC introduced the CRC Sanitiser Fogger as an innovative sanitising solution, perfectly suited to the mining sector. 

“The CRC Sanitiser Fogger is a high turnover product for cleaning the inside of vehicle cabs and even the rest areas in mine sites with minimal human intervention. The way the Fogger works is like a flea bomb. You release it and walk away and you can walk back into the room or cabin within half an hour, with no harm. This product is currently being tried by some of the major mines for their mobile equipment fleet to help with cleaning the vehicle between driver shift changes. We expect their positive feedback very soon,” says David.

With CRC offering such a wide range of safety conscious cleaning products, Bailey says CRC and CBC work closely with health, safety and environmental (HSE) managers, as well as maintenance, mechanical and electrical supervisors, to help educate them about the safer products available. 

David says as the move towards greener cleaning products gains momentum across all industries, CRC will continually look for safer alternatives that offer effective cleaning while being safe for the environment.