Mining Monthly feature: Hi-tech solutions to avoid another tailings dam disaster
Article published in Mining Monthly on March 6, 2019 – By David Upton
Otus uses satellite imagery to monitor surface movement and other indicators that can identify potential issues as they develop.
It has already used the technology to help operators and consulting firms investigate tailings dam failures, and found it could identify subtle movement months before breaches occurred. These changes had not been detected by drones and other technologies.
Otus managing director Marc Beaudry, said the company had turned the technology into a forward-looking monitoring system.
“It is critical operators leverage the best technology and consider all options to ensure disasters like the one in Brazil do not happen again” he said. “Satellite imaging and advanced processing techniques offer a solution for executives and boards to remotely keep track of their sites”.
“We expect it to become an essential due diligence tool for directors who are liable when things go wrong onsite. They will now be able to access independent analysis and quickly identify any problems
Satellite imaging and advanced processing techniques offer a solution for executives and boards to remotely keep track of their sites
Otus said Australia had hundreds of tailings dams, many of which were close to critical infrastructure and communities.
“In Western Australia alone, there were 800 tailings dams of which more than 130 were built in a similar way to those that recently caused catastrophic failures,” the company said.
“Yet, surveillance and regulations are limited. For example, in New South Wales, operators are only required to provide surveillance reports to the NSW Dams Safety Committee on the integrity of tailings dams every five years.
“Less than one in three tailings dams provided surveillance reports in 2016-17, despite structural problems often developing in just a few weeks.”