Open Pit Copper Mine

Open Pit Copper Mine2018-10-02T11:59:00+00:00

Project Description

Open Pit Copper Mine Case Study

Southern USA


Comprehensive Reporting/Ongoing Monitoring

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Project Overview

3vG processed data and conducted an analysis on an open-pit copper mine located in the southern USA. The large operation has multiple pits, stockpiles, tailings storage facilities, leach pads and extensive infrastructure. Like most open-pit mines, the lack of vegetation made it a highly suitable site for InSAR monitoring.


  • Irregular monitoring of existing ground instrumentation
  • Movement on these slopes was often minimal
  • Significant risk on unmonitored slopes

High resolution optical data acquired (left image). The right image shows a time series of motion at an open pit mine. Over 10 million targets were identified at the mine (right image). Multiple areas of movement were identified where there was no coverage from ground radar or prisms. In this case, motion was discovered, mapped and tracked in many areas of this mine site.

Solution & Results

3vG’s InSAR monitoring was deployed to provide full coverage of the mine, supplementing existing monitoring instruments. Displacement reports were delivered each week, hours after a satellite image was acquired. 3vG worked with geotechnical staff to select multiple satellite imaging angles extending monitoring to cover the entire mine site with millimeter precision.

Reports could effectively identify and assess new geotechnical risks as well as provide additional insight into known risks. Data was integrated into the mines existing monitoring system for easy usage. Alerts were provided to mine staff, who subsequently investigated each area. In some cases, additional monitoring was installed, in other cases operations were changed to increase safety and avert potential failures.

In one example, 3vG detected motion after a rain event at a little used stockpile that a previous visual inspection had missed. Later reports showed increased displacement and inspections identified cracking to confirm the motion. Installation of a simple pipe improved the drainage and the motion stopped, preventing a potentially dangerous and costly failure.

A stockpile area showing annual rates of displacement is shown on the left. Red areas show motion away from the satellite and blue shows motion towards the satellite. The right image shows point data with a displacement time series generated.


  • Increased safety and productivity due to full mine site monitoring coverage
  • Extended monitoring of stockpiles and tailings storage facilities where ground-based monitoring was not available
  • Early risk identification with sufficient time to mitigate against potential failures
  • Wide area coverage with high precision provides a better understanding of the extent and magnitude of movement
  • Effective deployment of real-time instruments and improved modeling with additional information

A sample Comprehensive Report of a tailings dam is shown in the image on the right and the left image shows the corresponding optical data. Comprehensive Reports provide a time series and detailed analysis of all movement that has occurred over a longer time period.


3vG InSAR monitoring solutions complement other monitoring technologies for improved safety and productivity. Our reports were fully integrated into existing site monitoring programs, and data was shared with geotechnical, planning, tailings, and environmental groups. Our client was able to mitigate risk, by taking action in advance, with the support of the detailed InSAR results provided by 3vG.

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