The top 6 tools helping Tier 1 & 2 mining companies manage their TSFs

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Mining & Resources / Tailings Storage Facilities

The top 6 tools helping Tier 1 & 2 mining companies manage their TSFs


2020 has witnessed an incredible amount of change in the mining industry, and in particular, disclosure of tailings data following the catastrophic Brumadinho disasterthe 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.  

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Managing Tailings Storage Facilities - Best Tools for Monitoring - Decipher

1) Disclosure database

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Mining companies are increasingly required to meet industry disclosure requests around TSF assetseffected 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. Decipher’s Tailings Disclosure Database solution enables mining companies to capture, manage and disclose data whilst significantly increasing efficiency.Decipher’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. 


IOT & Lidar - Decipher Tailings Monitoring - Wesfarmers

Topic Area III of the GTS 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 Decipher 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 alarmsthus enabling them to effectively monitor their facilities from anywhere in the worldImportantly, Decipher is device agnostic providing customers with choice and flexibility.


3) InSAR

InSAR - Decipher Tailings Monitoring - Wesfarmers

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 groundNo 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.

Decipher’s InSAR module allows customers to identify areas of concern across the full extent of the siteAdditional 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. Decipher is able to process InSAR data froseveral global InSAR providers, including CGG, 3VG and DARES.


4) Environmental Monitoring & Sampling

Environmental Monitoring - Sampling - Mine Rehabilitation & Closure - Tailings Storage Facilities - Decipher Platform Software


Ongoing environmental monitoring is critical in understanding environmental health, efficiencies, constraints, compliance and achieving closure

Armed with Decipher’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 Chart


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.

Decipher’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) Stakeholders

Stakeholders - Decipher Tailings Monitoring - Wesfarmers

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. 

Decipher’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 (such as K2Fly).


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