Deployment Of Large-area Radio-enabled Tailings Monitoring Systems In Open-pit Mines


Vincent Le Borgne, GKM Consultants; Alexandre Cosentino, GKM Consultants; Jean-Marie Bréhé, GKM Consultants; Stéphane-Éric Thivierge, GKM Consultants

Several instrument are routinely used to monitor the status of mines and their tailings. The most direct and commonly instrument used is the piezometer because it gives direct measurement of pore water pressure but there is a plethora of other instruments : inclinometers, thermistors, extensometers, settlement plates, etc. Historically, measurements have been, and sometimes still are, conducted manually. In a typical monitoring plan, a large number of  instruments is scattered in clusters across a large area. In large-area northern mines, the harsh weather, rough terrain and long distances make manual data collection unreliable and infrequent in the winter. Long term costs are also incurred by having staff regularly survey all instruments along kilometers-long dikes. Running instruments cables across harsh terrain, dikes and permafrost is cost-prohibitive and sometimes downright impossible. In a modern industry 4.0 framework, operations are closely managed and require consistent real-time updates of measurements. In addition to improving the cost-effectiveness of regular data collection, it opens the door to remote real-time alarms that can be used as an added safety measure by engineers and operators.      With the advent of industry 4.0  practices in the mining industry, monitoring systems often have a real-time component that requires an innovative approach combining manual readings, automated  data loggers, and cabled or radio communications. Radio communications built around Campbell Scientific (CS) products and Loadsensing (LS) products were compared in this work. In the former, there high flexibility is  available for the choice of compatible instruments and other accessory functions such as pump control. In the latter, a novel type of radio technology enables long range communications and very low power requirements. Both technological approaches are compared with regards to flexibility, power requirements, distances covered and advanced functionality. The availability of real-time data and its inherent limitations will also
Keywords: Tailings, monitoring,