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Identifying Instabilities Early

Mining stability monitoring

Mining stability monitoring provides persistent geotechnical risk surveillance to identify areas of abnormal surface movement over time.

By assessing time-dependent shape changes in Antares, geotechnical domain experts can identify patterns of instabilities. This is a direct pathway to improving asset management in mining operations.

Ask Our Experts Any Questions You Have

Early Warning Communication

So many mining companies around the world have chosen SkyGeo to be their geotechnical risk and InSAR partner.

We pride ourselves on being world class field application engineers and we are on a mission to make InSAR the standard remote monitoring solution in the mining industry.

Regular monitoring provides detailed, wide-area information on instabilities. Our Antares platform will provide you with early warning communication when potential problems are detected.

SkyGeo is the market leader for InSAR analysis to detect and measure surface movement and understand them in terms of structural or ground water changes.

Hundreds of customers from all over the world have been working with SkyGeo products and consultants for over a decade. Every mine is different and we’ve proven there is no standard InSAR solution that fits all.

Tailings Dam Stability

The mining industry has workflows and safety practices like no other industry.

We can assist in site production up-time, by using satellite data for forecasting maintenance. Areas that are moving with unexpected patterns need more attention than areas where the surface is stable.

Groundwater is known to play a key role in this process, we help visualize the role of groundwater better. Our engineers and geoscientists work together with you and your geotechnical team to make sure maintenance planning is optimized and cost can be reduced.

Environmental risk management is a serious topic in the Mining Industry.

Will it ever be possible to fully prevent a failure by using data? We are starting to understand the predictive power of these millions of remote sensing measurements, but they require a specialist to convert them into a correct and easy-to-understand statement about safety.

Tailings Storage Facilities’ Stability

Each mine has several areas of high geotechnical risk, that each require dedicated iterative assessment. Tailings dams pose a special category of risk. Because of environmental issues in the recent past, most mining experts are now looking for continuous monitoring systems to predict instability better.

Solid tailings are often used as part of the structure itself and with the tailings being liquid or a slurry of fine particles groundwater, significant instabilities arise in a variety of ways that are usually not completely understood.

With InSAR we can help this understanding: we characterize and quantify these time-dependent degradation processes on a wide area scale and identify different dynamic patterns. Monitoring these patterns continuously is now a proven permanent risk management method.

The deployment approach of remote and local sensors is different for any of the three raised tailings dam designs, the upstream, downstream and centerline.

Measurements into Insights

For stability evaluation of piles and dumps, but also for highwall slopes or longwall slopes, we take groundwater levels into consideration, as well as soils and other geotechnical influences. These factors impact both the InSAR measurements and the resulting insight. We are building up a library of relevant displacement patterns.

We create short term “iso-displacement” maps every time the satellite acquires an image and rank displacement in the mine over the last couple of days by way of a 4-stage “traffic light” alerting system.

For most customers, we typically show two different lines of sight, showing different parts of the mine. These Contour Maps are different from our time series products.

For more information on the relative merits of both these products and how they can help discover different stability issues, talk to our specialists.

Full Mine Site Coverage

InSAR Stability Monitoring can provide early warning of ground movement across the entire mine site, including the tailings storage facilities.

This warning system triggers operators when to mobilize for visual inspection or assign other available site resource like ground-based radar or drone-based systems for an emergency survey of the site.

A key benefit of our system is to pre-process the InSAR data in our platform to a set of thresholding criteria for ground motion dynamics, resulting in a site-specific traffic light function.

The data we share with your company seamlessly integrates with all industry standard mining software. A new dataset can be made available every time satellites revisit. For some locations this is bi-weekly but other sites are monitored every 5-6 days.

Transparent and Reliable InSAR Processing

At SkyGeo we know how the complex InSAR machine works inside and out; we know what works well – and what doesn’t when assessing all the different aspects of the mine stability.

We have built our own code base to do interferometry; we do not rely on black-box third party software.

We task and work with all available satellites and configure a service to optimize continuous risk monitoring.

Moreover, we have built a progressive rigorous process to do Quality Assurance auditing of our InSAR for Mining applications that has met the rigorous quality standards imposed by some of the largest and most demanding organizations in the world like ExxonMobil and Shell.

FAQs about InSAR Monitoring Solutions for Mining

What is InSAR, and how does it contribute to mining stability monitoring?

InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) is a remote monitoring solution used to detect and estimate surface movement, providing valuable insights into slope stability and subsidence trends.

How does InSAR satellite monitoring benefit mining operations?

InSAR satellite monitoring allows for the early identification of instabilities, enabling improved asset management and risk mitigation strategies. InSAR data typically covers the entire mine site including pit slopes, TSF’s, waste dumps and processing facilities.

Can InSAR data help predict failures in mining operations?

While InSAR data analysis can enhance predictive capabilities, specialized expertise and contextual site information is necessary to convert data into actionable insights for safety improvements.

How frequently do you provide InSAR monitoring updates for mine sites?

We typically provide updates every time the InSAR satellite acquires an image over the mine site. This is typically every 4 to 11 days. Satellite revisit times are expected to decrease in the future. For closed mines the frequency of reporting can be lower.