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Open Pit Mining

Satellite InSAR is well established in the open pit mining sector. InSAR’s high precision and wide coverage make it an essential tool for surface mining operations and planning. Open pit mining presents significant geotechnical challenges. These include the creation and safe maintenance of pit walls at optimal angles and berm heights.

Precision displacement monitoring enables operators to optimize this balance for each slope and to react quickly when displacement rates change. A complementary technology to existing ground-based instrumentation, satellite InSAR can measure displacement on all active and inactive slopes including pits, stockpiles, dumps, tailings facilities, and haul roads, all in the same wide-area footprint.

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Monitoring Open Pit Mines with InSAR

Open pit mines are often large-scale operations with many critical areas of interest. These areas include the pit, haul roads, processing facilities, conveyor belts, stockpiles, waste dumps, offices and camps, and access roads to and from the mine property.

Conventional risk monitoring techniques rely on ground instrumentation such as GNSS, total stations, piezometers, extensometers, and inclinometers, to measure ground displacement. Measurements are only taken when and where the instrumentation has been installed, by comparison, InSAR data exists over many sites as far back as 1992. Economically priced archive imagery can provide a baseline analysis prior to an ongoing monitoring campaign. Additionally, each footprint commonly covers 1500 square kilometres, with point time series every few meters. 3vG’s InSAR services do not require hardware installation to achieve high precision. This means clients can monitor remote inaccessible areas such as unsafe slopes and pit benches. By complementing ground-based instrumentation with InSAR, risk monitoring becomes more efficient and effective.

Benefits of using 3vG for Open Pit Mine Monitoring

Each InSAR monitoring program is custom developed to fit the monitoring needs of our clients. This includes choosing the most suitable satellite parameters, reporting frequency and budget, all while maintaining the highest precision and resolution possible.

In addition, multiple satellite perspectives can be combined to form complete coverage over all slopes. Imaging from a single perspective can still provide value, but some slopes may be obscured due to their aspect. Using multiple perspectives reveals these areas increases precision and provides an independent check. Also, by using observations from two different perspectives, the direction of displacement can be calculated.

While each mining project can operate independently, sites are often one of many assets under a global operation. 3vG has extensive experience providing scalable InSAR to address multi-site operations and corporate level monitoring. This is made possible by our investment in purpose-built processing architecture meant for monitoring and delivering hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of InSAR data every year.

3vG works continuously with clients and mining experts to keep our InSAR monitoring plans relevant to industry regulations and recommendations. We’ve worked with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the Global Tailings Standard, the Large Open Pit Project, Responsible Mining Foundation, and integration into local Trigger Action Response Plans (TARP) on a project-by-project basis. 3vG routinely contributes pro-bono to geotechnical academic courses, such as those provided by the Geotechnical Centre of Excellence at the University of Arizona. These actions ensure our mining InSAR products remain relevant and up-to-date.

We understand that there is more to monitoring than producing scheduled reports. We aim to empower onsite staff with the technology and expertise necessary to respond quickly and effectively during a crisis. That’s why we update the Displacement DataStream within 24 hours after receiving a new image. This keeps your knowledge base up to date rather than waiting weeks or months for results. In addition, we’ve developed an optional Emergency Response Plan that runs continuously in the background of all ongoing projects. In the event of deployment, 3vG can deliver additional InSAR results to aid in ongoing risk mitigation efforts.

What is InSAR?

Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) is a satellite remote sensing technology used for mapping ground displacement across a number of sectors.

Discover the benefits of using InSAR and learn more about this fascinating technology and how it can be applied to your next project by clicking the button below.

Learn More
  • An overview of the technology
  • Benefits of using InSAR
  • Available Satellite Options
  • How 3vG can help
  • What you will get
We are very impressed with this data. We realized that we have problems right now in several areas caused by rain. We saw them shown in red on the map.”
Municipality of La Paz

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