Mining

We contribute to the safety and cost effectiveness of mining operations by measuring ground motion with radar satellites

Slope stability for open pit mines

Achieving slope stability in open pit mines is a major challenge. The objective is to increase safety and productivity. Slope failures can be associated with rock masses; namely planar, wedge, toppling, and circular failures. Precise localization, quantification and understanding of slope failures can lead to improved slope stability and slope optimization with substantial savings and improvements in safety.
We measure open pit slope stability with radar satellite images. Slope failures of all ranges of movements (millimetric to metric) are mapped over the whole open pit area. We map previous slope failures as well as monitor present slope failures  to alert timely geotechnical responses about potential slope failures, and to initiate slope management programs for failure mitigation.

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Rock stability for underground mines

Rock stability has been always a major concern for deep underground mines with weak surrounding rock strata and high in situ stresses. Under high overburden and tectonic stresses, rocks can collapse from their own weight either during mining or after mining has been completed. We apply ground deformation measurements to all underground mining methods, including longwall, pillar, bord, and miniwall mining.
When employing, for example, the longwall mining technique, subsidence can be large and cause serious problems such as safety issues, risks for surface transportation and building damages. Subsidence for longwall mines can reach as much as several hundred meters. We measure ground deformation for entire underground mine areas and identify the angle of draw (limit angle) which defines the limit and extent of the subsidence affecting the Surface. This optimizes subsidence prediction and mine planning.
Our measurements are highly precise and cost efficient and by far less expensive than any conventional ground-based survey methods.

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Prevention of tailings dam failures

Safety records of tailings dams are crucial to the mining industry. However, failures continue to occur, resulting in a negative image for the mining industry. Security of tailings facilities is now a recognized priority at a corporate level and the concept of sustainable mining is an accepted part of the modern industry and often required by regulators.
The increasing focus on tailings dam safety brings with it an increasing awareness of the importance of a reliable monitoring program to confirm that the tailings dam is in a safe condition. At the same time, it has to be taken into consideration that tailings are bi-products of mining activities and therefore have to be stored and monitored in the most cost effective way possible.
We monitor tailings dam stability with the highest reliability and cost efficiency: We offer alert systems with sub-weekly, weekly, monthly, trimestral and yearly frequency to be timely informed about any potential dam failures, and to be able to control and mitigate dam failures.

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Slope stability of waste dumps

Mining wastes are deposited on the surface to form vast dumping grounds (waste dumps). Landslides, erosion and subsidence of waste dumps are a challenge for the mining industry because they represent a potential source for environmental problems which have significant negative impacts on their surroundings.
Therefore, waste dump monitoring and early warnings of environmental hazards are needed to identify waste dump risk areas and implement solutions to increase waste dump stability. During rainfall periods especially, chemical substances might leach and contaminate groundwater leading to an increase in the risk of waste dump slope failures.
We measure ground deformation and slope stability for waste dumps with early warning alert systems in order to identify potential waste dump instabilities and take mitigation actions.

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Leach pad stability

Heap leaching is the extraction of precious metals like gold, silver, copper and uranium from their ore by placing them on a pad and sprinkling a leaching solvent over the heap.
When heaping ore for leaching, the stacking heights can sometimes reach 100 m, so an analysis of slope stability is of high importance. Leach pad failures can be caused by extreme heights, base pressures, or long-term chemical and biological degradation of ore.
Measuring subsidence over leach pads enables mining companies to be aware of potential leach pad instabilities and ensure the safety of operations in a reliable and cost efficient way. It also enables them to keep the environmental impact of heap leaching as low as possible.

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Integrity of surface facilities and access roads

Mine applicants (especially underground mine applicants) are obligated to file a detailed subsidence control plan that protects surface features such as buildings and access roads. This is because they might be damaged or diminished in value due to mining activities and induced subsidence.
Structures, including houses, built in mining areas should be designed to accept a small degree of tilt and strain on a short-term basis without suffering major damage. In these cases, subsidence is unnoticeable. However in other cases, it can cause visible cracks in building walls or on the ground.
Radar satellite subsidence monitoring prevents damage to these facilities and delivers information to control subsidence for both facilities and infrastructures owned by the mining company (plants, conveyor belts, towers, etc.) as well as surrounding facilities owned by third parties (buildings, utility lines, access roads, etc.).

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