Fiber-powered ears evolve mine monitoring
Silixa wins Queen's Award for fiber optic sensor technology Metal Tech News – May 5, 2021
Last updated 5/4/2021 at 2:28pm
Global fiber-optic solutions provider Silixa Ltd. is bringing its award-winning Carina Sensing System to the mining industry, using optical fiber cables as digital ears to listen for micro-seismic rumblings that could be tell-tale signs of problems long before they occur.
United Kingdom-based Silixa was founded in 2007 to develop and commercialize next-generation optical fiber sensors, and for the past decade has become a leading provider of fiber-powered data solutions that address critical measurement challenges in the alternative energy, mining, oil and gas, environmental, earth sciences, and infrastructure sectors.
Recently, the company was awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2021 for its newly developed Carina Sensing System.
This system allows for massive coverage of distributed sensors without having to compromise on sensitivity.
"With the launch of the Carina Sensing System in 2019, we doubled down on our diversification strategy, entering underserved sectors that required accurate monitoring solutions," said Silixa CEO Glynn Williams. "The remarkable growth resulting from this strategy reflects the benefits that the technology delivers in applications, particularly within the mining sector."
The Carina Sensing System is capable of providing sensitivity upwards to one hundred times greater than that of standard fibers. This higher sensitivity allows mine operators to tackle one of the biggest challenges found on a mine site, managing water in tailings dams and the maintenance of those dams.
"The system can cost-effectively monitor the integrity of tailings storage facilities at a higher spatial resolution compared to conventional technologies, thus preventing the failure of dams which can cause immense social and economic damage," said Williams.
It is due to the precision of the latest system that enables Silixa's seismic and geophysical monitoring to provide a higher degree of security at the cost of little to no environmental footprint.
This falls in line with many companies' new interest in moving toward new ESG (environmental, social, and governance) standards, by maximizing safety and optimizing productivity with continuous or on-demand high-resolution data that translates as actionable information to operators.
Statistically, roughly 20 tailings dams fail every decade, as Carina is capable of detecting even the smallest changes in a dam structure that could otherwise go unnoticed with conventional technologies, Silixa's latest system takes dam safety to a higher level.
The latest award further exemplifies the success of Silixa's technology and diversification strategy as to be recognized, commercial success must show the effectiveness of the innovation.
Between 2018-20, Silixa reported record compound annual growth of over 40%.
"This is an exciting time for our company, and we are delighted to have received this internationally recognized prestigious award which is a reflection of a great Silixa team effort across all our international operating centers," said Founder and Executive Director of Silixa Mahmoud Farhadiroushan. "Going forward, we believe that the system's passive monitoring capabilities will create huge potential across a multitude of emerging sectors and applications."
As mines become smarter, sensor technology is possibly the leading requirement for any future digitalization of a mine and backed by a system as sensitive as Carina is just the next step to high-tech mining.