Mining Stability Monitoring

Mining stability Monitoring is a service to provide persistent geotechnical risk surveillance to identify areas of abnormal surface movement over time. Mines need to be up and running 24/7 and SkyGeo can help achieve that goal by identifying instabilities early.

By assessing time-dependent shape changes in InSAR data in our Antares Platform, geotechnical domain experts can identify patterns of instabilities. This is a direct pathway to improve asset management in mining operations.

Early warning communication

Three of the biggest companies in the industry trust us as their InSAR partner of choice. We pride ourselves on being world class field application engineers and we are on a mission to make InSAR the standard remote monitoring solution in the mining industry. Regular monitoring provides detailed, wide-area information on instabilities. Our Antares platform will provide you with early warning communication when potential problems are detected.

SkyGeo is well known as market leader for Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) analysis to detect and measure surface movement and understand them in terms of structural or ground water changes.

Hundreds of customers from all over the world have been working with SkyGeo products and consultants for over a decade. Every mine is different and we’ve proven there is no standard InSAR solution that fits all.

Tailings dam stability

The mining industry has workflows and safety practices like no other industry. We can assist in site production up-time, by using satellite data for forecasting maintenance. Areas that are moving with unexpected patterns need more attention than areas where the surface is stable. Groundwater is known to play a key role in this process, we help visualize the role of groundwater better. Our engineers and geoscientists work together with you and your geotechnical team to make sure maintenance planning is optimized and cost can be reduced.

Environmental risk management is a serious topic in the Mining Industry. Will it ever be possible to fully prevent a failure by using data? We are starting to understand the predictive power of these millions of remote sensing measurements, but they require a specialist to convert them into a correct and easy-to-understand statement about safety.

Stability monitoring benefits

Prevent surprises – risk in mining is environmental

Optimize deployment of surveillance crews and equipment

Discover new insights about time dependent risks

Tailings Storage Facilities’ stability

Each mine has several areas of high geotechnical risk, that each require dedicated iterative assessment. Tailings dams pose a special category of risk. Because of environmental issues in the recent past, most mining experts are now looking for continuous monitoring systems to predict instability better.

Solid tailings are often used as part of the structure itself and with the tailings being liquid or a slurry of fine particles groundwater, significant instabilities arise in a variety of ways that are usually not completely understood. With InSAR we can help this understanding: we characterize and quantify these time-dependent degradation processes on a wide area scale and identify different dynamic patterns. Monitoring these patterns continuously is now a proven permanent risk management method.

The deployment approach of remote and local sensors is different for any of the three raised tailings dam designs, the upstream, downstream and centerline.

Converting measurements into insights

For (Stability Evaluation of) piles and dumps, but also for highwall slopes or longwall slopes, we take groundwater levels into consideration, as well as soils and other geotechnical influences. These factors impact both the InSAR measurements and the resulting insight. We are building up a library of relevant deformation patterns.

We create short term “iso-deformation” maps every time the satellite acquires an image and rank deformation in the mine over the last couple of days by way of a 4-stage “traffic light” alerting system. For most customers, we typically show two different lines of sight, showing different parts of the mine. These Contour Maps are different from our time series products.
For more information on the relative merits of both these products and how they can help discover different stability issues, talk to our specialists.

Full mine site coverage

InSAR Stability Monitoring can provide early warning of ground movement across the entire mine site, including the tailings storage facilities. This warning system triggers operators when to mobilize for visual inspection or assign other available site resource like ground-based radar or drone-based systems for an emergency survey of the site. A key benefit of our system is to pre-process the InSAR data in our platform to a set of thresholding criteria for ground motion dynamics, resulting in a site-specific traffic light function. The data we share with your company seamlessly integrates with all industry standard mining software. A new dataset can be made available every time satellites revisit. For some locations this is bi-weekly but other sites are monitored every 5-6 days.

The world’s most reliable InSAR processing

At SkyGeo we know how the complex InSAR machine works inside and out; we know what works well – and what doesn’t when assessing all the different aspects of the mine stability. We have built our own code base to do interferometry; we do not rely on black-box third party software. We task and work with all available satellites and configure a service to optimize continuous risk monitoring. Moreover, we have built a progressive rigorous process to do Quality Assurance auditing of our InSAR for Mining applications that has met the rigorous quality standards imposed by some of the largest and most demanding organizations in the world like ExxonMobil and Shell.

SkyGeo has been right too many times

– Jarred Ghilarducci, Technical Lead, Production Engineering
SkyGeo customer since 2015

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