Mine tailings monitoring goes to the cloud
Globalized insights offer effective management, transparency Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – July 15, 2020
Last updated 7/15/2020 at 5:02am
Mining companies around the globe are coming under increasing pressure to ensure and demonstrate that their tailings storage facilities are stable and do not pose a threat to the environment and people nearby. Cloud-based monitoring has the potential to provide more effective management and greater transparency of the status of these tailings storage facilities.
Tailings storage facilities are used to store the finely crushed rock left behind after a mining operation has extracted the minerals from mined ore. These storage ponds often hold millions of tons of tailings, typically covered with water, behind at least one dam. The failure of such a dam could lead to environmental damage and threaten the lives of anybody downstream.
Most, if not all, modern tailings storage facilities are equipped with an array of sensors that monitor the slightest changes in the facility, providing management with real-time insights into the status of a tailings facility that can be used to enhance the safety and implement measures to ensure a failure does not happen.
Inmarsat, a global leader in mobile satellite communications, has developed a software-as-a-service application that enables mining companies to view all of their tailings data in one place via a single dashboard anywhere around the world.
This application, known as Tailings Insight, can handle data from a wide range of sensors types and internet of things devises to display this data in a way that informs all stakeholders of conditions of their tailings storage facilities in real-time.
Tailings Insight – Cloud, designed for mines that already have good connectivity infrastructure, can integrate data from a range of existing sensors and provides a platform to better collaborate that data, both within the company and with outside stakeholders such as geotechnical auditors and regulators.
In addition to providing for faster decision-making within a mining company, Tailings Insight – Cloud was developed to surpass upcoming tailings monitoring standards, improving company Environmental and Social Governance (ESG).
"Because of this design, the solution is able to compile tailings data from a broad array of sources, which is then made visible via a single dashboard view in real-time, accessible from anywhere," said Inmarsat Director of Mining Innovation Joe Carr. "It also provides a variety of ways of visualizing sensor data to make the management of TSFs easier than ever, and its advanced alarm functionality helps notify key stakeholders about any important changes in real time."
The Tailings Insight – Cloud application integrates with the existing tailings monitoring systems, so it is quick to set up and requires little or no on site-work.
For mine sites that do not have the convenience of reliable internet, Inmarsat also offers Tailings Insight – Plus, which includes all the features of Cloud plus connectivity via Insmarsat's L-band satellite network.
Inmarsat says its "L-band satellite network operates with 99.9% efficiency" anywhere on Earth.
"With mines and their associated TSFs often located beyond the reach of traditional terrestrial networks, Tailings Insight – Plus is the perfect solution for organizations operating with weak or non-existent connectivity, preventing them from achieving real-time monitoring and compliance," said Carr.
Inmarsat's two-tier approach to tailings monitoring – Cloud and Plus – is an evolution of the company's tailings monitoring technology.
"After a year of very positive responses to our original Tailings Dam Monitoring Solution, our key learning was that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to monitoring TSFs," Carr said. "With our new, enhanced solutions now available, we are continuing to honor our commitment to support organizations tackling the challenges associated with tailings facilities."