How Wireless Deformation Monitoring Mitigates Risk in Open-Pit Mining


Mining comes with inherent risk. As technology advances, intelligent sensors and automated data collection systems are routinely replacing the manual monitoring of mining sites. This helps to mitigate risk where safety is a priority and where the work site conditions are challenging. Tailings impoundments (raised embankments and retention dams) present some of the most challenging conditions, in some of the most remote locations, on the planet. Manual monitoring of these sites is often labor-intensive, weather-dependent, costly, slow, and prone to error.

“In the old days where everything had to be wired to data loggers,” Adrian Jonson, Business Development Agent with RST Instruments said. “The limitations it was bound to were restrictive.”

Measurand’s ShapeArray modernizes the mining industry’s monitoring strategy with easy-to-install, pre-calibrated sensors that gather precise ground deformation readings at a fixed cost. Modernized geotechnical instrumentation provides stakeholders with the ability to automate the collection of data and transmit that data wirelessly and remotely. Measurand’s ShapeArray paired with a DT ShapeArray wireless data logger node by RST Instruments can connect to the RSTAR Radio network to automate wireless data collection, viewing, and analysis. Automated data collection allows for the communication of accurate and timely measurements about what’s happening subsurface so your engineers can make better decisions based on better data.

“Going wireless has really changed everything,” Jonson said. “Right from being able to not have to string cables everywhere and worry about cable management, to being able to connect sensors that were so far away from anything reliable, that they can now be monitored regularly and in an autonomous fashion. Alerts become real and people can manage data more effectively.”

Automated deformation monitoring mitigates risk

Monitoring risk remotely, specifically deformation monitoring and slope stability, is where ShapeArray excels. Frequent manual inclinometer readings are subject to human error, and, in many situations, not practical, which can lead to sporadic collection and potentially out-of-date data. Manually collecting data from multiple instruments is time-intensive and cumbersome. But monitoring with ShapeArray is instantaneous and automatic. If configured with a fully-automated Data Acquisition System (DAS), when sensors detect an increased rate of change, an alarm triggers alerting operators of risk. This enables the straightforward integration of real-time slope stability data into the site’s Trigger Action Response Plan (TARP), which ultimately increase safety for onsite crews and minimize downtime costs.

In the African mining market, where open-pit mining represents a significant portion of the sector’s activity, responsive monitoring is essential.

“Extensive monitoring solutions not only ensure that the mine is stable, as per the design, but also makes sure that if something is going wrong, to just get people out of there as quickly as possible. Prediction is a key aspect of monitoring these sorts of mines,” Jonson said. “It’s absolutely essential that the massive pits that they dig in the ground remain open and unaffected by the mining activities.”

Since 2006, Measurand’s ShapeArray has provided slope stability monitoring in tailings dams and open-pit excavations for mine operators in Alberta, Brazil, Poland (the largest tailings facility in Europe), and subarctic Northwest Territories (Diavik ice diamonds). Mine owners and operators around the globe depend on

ShapeArray to deliver monitoring that:

  • enables predictive intelligence (better decisions)
  • reduces monitoring costs (low power/low maintenance)
  • increases workforce productivity (cost savings)
  • increases safety (lower insurance)ShapeArray real-time data contributes to the overall understanding of the effect of mining operations on the site’s slope stability with the observational method.

DT ShapeArray by RST Instruments is a simple-to-implement and scalable platform for wireless ShapeArray connectivity. To find out more, contact Measurand today.



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