Structural integrity of tailings storage facilities needed monitoring in real-time
One of the largest gold mines in South Africa set out to enhance safety for their personnel and the surrounding environment by using technology to monitor their tailings storage facilities (TSF). Time lapse analysis of the dam’s structure and characteristics of the soil would bring safety both for the environment and personnel, preventing unpredictable catastrophic failure of the dam’s walls.
Successful team work
The team at Ramjack, members from LSI Lastem, and the gold mine’s tailing storage facility managers collaborated for the installation. They selected the highest-risk zone of the TSF to be monitored and the three teams collaborated to coordinate the installation in just a few hours.
G.Re.T.A.: Geo-Resistivimeter for Time-lapse Analysis
The G.Re.T.A. geo-resistivity monitoring system was installed on the crest of the gold mine’s tailings storage dam to monitor it’s structural integrity and reveal any seepages or fractures to prevent collapse.
G.Re.T.A. is an off-the-shelf, autonomous, cloud based, fully automated Geo-Resistivimeter designed for permanent geoelectrical monitoring of the dam’s soil. Being a fixed and energetically autonomous (solar) installation, the technology will enable the mine to monitor any changes to the resistivity profile of the dam’s soil even in the harshest conditions.
The mine will now be able to assess water content and any seepages or fractures. Alarms and alerts will be sent when pre-set thresholds are reached, keeping the facilities safe from collapse.
Goelectrical monitoring made easy
The 5-phase installation of the system took less than two hours:
1. excavation of a 141 m-long trench and plynth installation
2. box and solar panel installation
3. positioning of the cables in the trench and assembling of electrodes
4. electrodes coverage and contact resistance test
5. trench closure and system switched on
When the system is switched on, the data becomes immediately available on the cloud software.
The TSF under control
The system continuously scans the inner structure of the TSF, providing accurate, real-time data of the soil. In this first period the data streaming is constant, indicating that there are not risks to the integrity of the dam body, such as concentrated seepage or fractures.
Phase 2 will see installation of piezometers in the area to compare resistivity measurements, piezometric data and freatic surface for maximised coverage.