Home > Blogs > Tailings Storage Facility Management – Achieving GISTM Compliance

Following on from our Blogs on the topic of responsible Tailing Storage Facility (TSF) management, we dive a bit deeper into some of the varying technologies commonly found in any monitoring program, and how they will support your Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM) compliance.  Whilst many of these technologies are deployed on a piecemeal basis, it is often the case that a holistic approach is greater than the sum of each individual system.

A search of TSF solutions will provide a plethora of options, but where do you start?  Many claim to be the answer to your monitoring challenges, but it’s rarely the case – satellite imagery provides highly accurate analysis of surface movement, but over what time period?  Increased frequency leads to increasing costs and if you are particularly concerned about your tailings facility during the rainy season, your provider will be hard pressed to provide any imagery, what with all that cloud cover.

Given the importance of any TSF, especially in light of all the publicity and commitments to address locals’ concerns, real time monitoring of critical factors is the only way to ensure a truly effective solution.  That’s not to say satellite imagery doesn’t play a role.  It does.  But, it is rather one of a number of elements that potentially play an important part in a mine’s planning and monitoring program.

There are four key areas to consider when building your TSF program:

  • Seepage. Tailings Dams are permeable; the extent of seepage has a direct impact on the stability of the structure.  Good drainage design can help prevent leakage, but monitoring is critical.      
  • Foundation Failure. Tailings dams are among the largest engineered structures on earth.  Instability of the foundation, or the geology surrounding the structure, can cause shifts – that produce voids – and result in unsafe structural conditions.
  • Flooding.  Heavy rainfall can cause the water level of a dam’s reservoir to rise above the height of the embankment increasing the risk of slope instability through erosion.
  • Seismicity. Earthquakes and other seismic events can impact the stability of the tailings dam structure as well as cause liquification of the tailings sand.

Assessing your local conditions drives the decision process in evaluating the instruments to employ.  Instruments chosen, the data backhaul is the enabler to achieving real time data capture; coupled with an effective visualisation platform that enables you to monitor, track alarms and undertake comparative analysis.

Investigating, developing, designing and deploying a holistic TSF monitoring program draws from numerous disciplines; all of which need to be brought together onto a single platform from which to monitor and manage an integral part of an operation.  As a systems integrator focused on the mining industry, Ramjack is dedicated to bringing best-of-breed systems to mining operations to meet their challenges and achieve their goals. Our team has built an expertise in how piezometers and other geotechnical instruments (such as extensometers, inclinometers, pressure cells and geo-resistivity monitors) work together to communicate wirelessly to a central server, providing real-time information about thresholds, trends and alarms and important sensor datasets for advanced big data analysis – all a critical part of your TSF management.  

For example:  technologies that provide time lapse analysis give comprehensive insight into the alteration of the soil’s resistivity profile over time, allowing the analysis of water content, the presence of cavities and other anomalies deep into the soil. Coupling holistic monitoring systems (like real time georesistivity monitoring) with sensors like pressure cells, extensometers and piezometers creates a comprehensive monitoring system for all earthen structures.

Working with our team, mining companies benefit from:

  • Unlimited number of installed instruments without experiencing data collection challenges.
  • Significant time-savings by eliminating manual data capture providing more time to analyse data and improve operations.
  • More data for better decision-making as mines are able to analyse the entire tailings facility all at once.
  • Early identification of problems, allowing for timely intervention.

Contact our team to see how your mine can leverage instrumentation for best management practices of your tailings storage facilities.