- 2020 saw a significant amount of change in the mining industry with the tailings data disclosure request, the launch of the Global Tailings Portal, release of the Global Tailings Standard (GTS), overhaul of insurance underwriting guidelines and of course COVID-19. This article shares the top 6 tools that Tier 1 and Tier 2 mining companies will be using to improve their TSF management in 2021.
- [FREE DOWNLOAD] – 7 tools used by leading miners for Dams & Tailings monitoring and management
- [FREE DOWNLOAD] – How leading miners are leveraging InSAR for Tailings
2020 witnessed an incredible amount of change in the mining industry, and in particular, disclosure of tailings data following the catastrophic Brumadinho disaster, the subsequent launch of the Global Tailings Portal, the release of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GTS), an overhaul of insurance underwriting guidelines and of course the global impact of COVID-19.
Mining companies all around the world are now reviewing their tailings management and are looking for ways to improve their monitoring, reporting, governance and insurance processes.
1. Tailings Monitoring
Topic Area III of the global tailings standard aims to lift the performance bar for designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, monitoring and closing facilities. This topic area requires the ongoing use of an updated knowledge base, consideration of tailings technologies and a comprehensive monitoring system.
The platform integrates and centralises key TSF data from laboratories, site selected IoT devices and sensors, LiDAR, CCTV, drones, inspections, earth observations (NDVI, NDRE, MSAVI & NDWI) and remote sensing (InSAR) into a central location on the cloud, serving internal and external users with critical up-to-date information and alarms, thus enabling them to effectively monitor their facilities from anywhere in the world. Importantly, K2fly is device agnostic providing customers with choice and flexibility.
2. Tailings Disclosure Database
Mining companies are increasingly required to meet industry disclosure requests around TSF assets, effected by the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative.
Topic Area VI of the new GTS also requires operators to support public disclosure of information about tailings facilities, and participate in global initiatives to create standardised, independent, industry-wide and publicly accessible information about facilities. This data is usually stored in site based, siloed datasets, is often relatively difficult to obtain, time consuming to collect and challenging to release with full governance in place.
K2fly’s Tailings & Dams solution enables mining companies to capture, manage and disclose data whilst significantly increasing efficiency. K2fly’s innovative design enables customers to provide independent users (insurers, investors, auditors, ITRB etc.) with secure access to a quick and effective knowledge management tool with appropriate, vetted TSF data.
This enables operators to visually demonstrate good governance, informs stakeholders to better understand the facility, and as a result, may potentially obtain or reduce insurance premiums and improve investor sentiment.
3. InSAR Displacement
TSFs have proven to be fairly tricky to monitor for ground movement at scale using conventional methods, however in recent years, the industry has increased the use of interferometric satellite-based radar (InSAR) type monitoring throughout operations, making this task remote, more cost effective and reducing the requirement for people on the ground.
No singular technology has proven to be successful at predicting or identifying potential failures of TSFs – however, a comprehensive system of monitoring and procedures is current best practice, and InSAR is proving to be a valuable addition to these systems.
K2fly’s InSAR module allows customers to identify areas of concern across the full extent of the site. Additional more frequent monitoring technology is then often employed to understand the detail and magnitude of deformation of surfaces overtime thus helping to identify and manage risks of potential failures or provide assurance that the area is safe and stable. K2fly is able to process InSAR data from several global InSAR providers, including CGG, 3VG and DARES.
4. Monitoring & Sampling
Ongoing environmental monitoring is critical in understanding environmental health, efficiencies, constraints, compliance and achieving closure.
Armed with K2fly’s Environmental Monitoring module, mining operators can capture a wide range of monitoring data and indicators such as surface and groundwater quality, decant pond and under-drain water levels, and embankment conditions to name a few, helping to manage and report on project-specific data requirements.
The ability to join these datasets with and/or alongside satellite data provides for powerful data interpretation and insights.
5. Piezometric Charting
Many dam monitoring systems use buried pressure transducers (called piezometers) to measure the pore water pressure in the dam and define the phreatic surface. These devices are buried in a dam and can measure water pressure even with very small amounts of water being present.
Piezometers in embankments monitor the phreatic surface against agreed trigger levels to maintain embankment stability. Vibrating wire piezometers, standpipes, and bores monitor groundwater mounding and outward movement beneath and surrounding the facility.
This is looked at carefully against surface water and groundwater quality sampling, both upstream and downstream of the facility, to check against agreed trigger levels.
K2fly’s Monitoring Modules work in unison to pull key information from a number of diverse sources (online, offline or hand captured) into a cohesive, unified user interface. One of the key aspects of this module is the Piezometric Chart. A piezometer is a special tool that is used to take measurements within an aquifer. It is submerged within a well beneath the saturated zone, through less porous rock.
Many piezometer wells are drilled within a confined aquifer at certain locations. The piezometric surface of water is the level of water within a piezometric well in a confined aquifer. It is depicted on maps as a line between the walls of a well. When several piezometric surface measurements are available, a Geotech can determine recharge and discharge rates and most importantly groundwater-flow direction and rates.
6. Stakeholder Management
Topic Area I focuses on project-affected people and is intended to be addressed across all operational activities throughout the lifecycle of the facility.
The topic area requires project-affected people to be afforded opportunities for meaningful engagement in decisions that affect them.
K2fly’s Stakeholders module allows customers to easily visualise, identify and track stakeholder profiles and metrics such as risk and influence on the map, capture ongoing engagements, and assign related actions to team members.
This data can also originate from existing mine systems.
7. Tailings Governance
Tailings governance plays a vital role in providing surety and confidence when submitting data and disclosures to third parties, insurance organisations, auditors and investor bodies. Until now, companies have relied on manual processes and spreadsheets when coordinating tailings information, which is often time consuming, often lacks validation and may be susceptible to error.
K2fly’s Tailings Governance solution is fully cloud based meaning secure access can easily be granted to auditors whilst ensuring the process of collating relevant data is simplified for key internal stakeholders across the C-suite team, board members, Engineer of Record, Geotechnical teams, Accountable Executives and Information Technical Review Boards (ITRB).
Integrations with ERP systems, action management systems, risk systems, Microsoft and reporting / dashboarding tools, means the solution can be rolled out to support existing processes resulting in significant efficiency gains. Users are provided with filterable dashboards, automated reports, alarms, alerts and notifications, timeline views and access to key records.
The overall responsible executives have clear visibility over submitted data, confidence in the signoff process and progress towards compliance requirements (such as the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM)).