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Tailings Storage Facilities

Tailings storage facilities (TSFs) can present complex geotechnical monitoring challenges. They often stretch across many kilometres and can be dozens of metres tall. The size of TSFs means the extensive stretches of slopes are difficult to monitor with ground instrumentation due to their large area and remote location, representing access challenges for field personnel. TSFs can pose significant risks to mine owners due to their high economic and environmental consequences of failure.

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Monitoring Tailings Storage Facilities using InSAR

TSFs can exhibit subtle displacement along their dam walls and embankments ahead of failure. Whether upstream, downstream, or centerline construction, 3vG’s InSAR monitoring program is specifically designed to detect and provide early warnings of developing risks.

Additionally, as dams are raised, on-site monitoring instrumentation may need to be moved or recalibrated to continue data collection. This can cause interruptions in measurement data. Since 3vG’s InSAR doesn’t require ground instrumentation, monitoring through dam raises, construction, and buttressing is done automatically and requires no input from on-site staff.

3vG has developed tools to identify and alert on-site staff as early as possible when risks develop. 3vG boasts an unmatched data delivery turnaround of just a few hours after data availability, leading to the fastest InSAR detection time in the industry. Paired with wide area coverage, displacement monitoring can be applied to the entire mining operations and the TSFs, all in a single satellite footprint.

Benefits of using 3vG for Tailings Storage Facility Monitoring

Since 2007, 3vG’s InSAR technology has been used to identify displacement risks early to provide mines the time to respond and mitigate as necessary. Our wide area coverage, frequent imaging repeat, and mining-specific algorithms provide high-precision monitoring. These factors allow for advanced risk detection methods such as determining the direction of displacement, identifying areas of acceleration, and highlighting areas of real displacement over satellite signal noise. In just one image footprint, 3vG’s InSAR technology can inform engineers on emerging risks across the tailings dam wall, perimeter embankments, dikes, and all associated infrastructure.

InSAR data quality varies over time and spatially within individual images due to factors such as ground conditions and atmospheric activity. For some areas, very subtle displacement estimates are possible (2 mm or less). 3vG has developed the means to report any statistically significant displacement, regardless of its magnitude. In contrast, more standard approaches use simple thresholding to visualize displacement areas resulting in false positives and undetected risks. For TSFs, where the consequences of failure are high, more data can mean better decision-making.

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.

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  • 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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