April 20, 2023

Changes to regulation promote health and safety. May also affect the shift in incentives of decarbonization technologies.

How does this impact your plans to electrify? Tighter restrictions on DPM exposure are a good thing but does this regulation change lock in the use of diesel equipment for years to come?

Changes to Ontario reg. 854 were announced April 11, 2023 [1] concerning the reduction of elemental carbon exposure limits (from diesel particulate matter ‘DPM’) and are a move in the right direction, promoting the health and long-term safety of the workers exposed to harsh conditions. Exposure to DPM is now one of the most significant risk factors for miners [2].

Some additional changes were also made to Ontario reg. 854 section 183.1 (not mentioned in the referenced press release) which may affect the shift in incentives from the standpoint of accelerating the energy transition.

The change will allow mines in Ontario to scrap the old ‘100CFM to brake horsepower’ calculation when determining ventilation requirements and rather use the CANmet ‘ventilation prescription’ amount. This new approach does have a solid basis and could result in ventilation requirements up to 50% lower.

A potential issue is that this change will hurt the financial incentive for underground mines to decarbonize, as there will no longer be as large a gap in ventilation requirements between zero-carbon vehicles vs vehicles using low-Sulphur diesel and Tier 4F engines.

Some groups, however, don’t think the regulation goes far enough. The United Steel Workers ‘USW6500’ union has in the past called for “elemental carbon exposure limit be lowered [from 120 μg/m3 as of this regulation change] to 20 μg/m3, which is the level recommended by both Carcinogen Exposure Canada (CAREX) and the Occupational Cancer Research Centre.“ [3] If the regulation were to follow this more stringent recommendation, would it have instead all but eliminated diesel engines in Ontario underground mines?

The market for zero-emissions technologies for underground mining equipment is rapidly expanding. Regulations to drive industry towards the cleanest alternatives to fossil fuels are what’s needed now. What are your thoughts?


1)     Ontario Introducing New Rules to Keep Miners Safe | Ontario Newsroom

2)     IARC Publications Website – Diesel and Gasoline Engine Exhausts and Some Nitroarenes

3)     Reduce diesel particulate exposure in mines, urges union – Northern Ontario Business