National Mining Agency of Brazil and Deltares invite InSAR expert SkyGeo to hackathon

By October 9, 2019 No Comments

Tailings dam Hackathon

Remotely monitoring safety of mine tailing dams is a joint effort of Brazil and the Netherlands. The aim of the tailings dam hackathon, which takes place from Monday October 7th until Friday October 11th, is to design and test a framework to remotely monitor safety of mine tailing dams. The first part of the hackathon will focus on need assessment and end-user requirements. This is followed by brainstorming, design of solutions and a proof-of-concept of system components by applying them on actual cases. Having our colleagues involved with experts from around the world talking about pattern recognition and change detection will certainly bring new ideas to life.

World renowned geotechnical experts and data scientists from Brazil and the Netherlands will collaborate in a hackathon organized by Deltares to design and test a framework to remotely monitor safety of mine tailing dams. SkyGeo is the only commercial company invited.

Tailings Dam structures

Tailing dams are human made earthen embankment structures that store mine waste. Geotechnical stability of the structure is a high priority for both national government organisations and comanies within the mining industry. Just recently a mine tailings dam ruptured in the state Mato Grosso in Brazil and released half a million cubic meters of waste into the surrounding area. This is not a stand alone event, everyone vividly remenbers the January 2019 event where the Brumadinho tailings dam breached. Three years before another tailings dam in Minas Gerais failed, flooding several villages and severely causing damage to the Doce river ecosystem. Just in Brazil there are around 800 mine tailings dams of which 25 percent are marked as potentially unsafe by government officials. In recent years other continents have also had ruptures, in Europe both Spain and Hungary encountered the environmental issues caused by tailings dam fails.

Early warning communication

Improved forecasting of instability and time-dependent failure is the current Holy Grail in the mining industry. Innovative technologies such as InSAR earth observation, data integration, artificial intelligence and early warning systems offer opportunities to achieve this goal. The main challenge is to integrate the different technologies into a framework that fits the needs of the Brazilian end-users and wider society. SkyGeo is well known as world 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. As Pieter Bas Leezenberg, CEO of SkyGeo states; “Patttern recognition and unleashing the full potential of InSAR monitoring is essentially what the company has been doing for over a decade. That is why we sent our best data scientists to the hackathon.”


Participants in the hackathon are:

End-users and geology and mining experts from the National Mining Agency (ANM), the Environmental Agency of Minas Gerais (SEMAD) and the University of Ouro Preto (UFOP) in Brazil.
Remote sensing specialists, data scientists and geotechnical experts from Deltares, University of Twente, Delft University of Technology and InSAR company SkyGeo in the Netherlands.
Ton Peters (Deltares) and Luiz Panagio (National Mining Agency), both leaders of the hackathon: “In the hackathon we expect to proof the feasibility of such a monitoring framework and demonstrate its added value.”