Join us in Auckland for our presentation on the role of InSAR for tailings dam safety. NZSOLD 2019, 9 – 11 October, Auckland (New Zealand).

Resilient tailings dams have become increasingly apparent with the rise in catastrophic failures in recent years. Over the past decade, there have been 11 major failures, often with devastating impacts to nearby communities in terms of loss of life and impact on the environment. With the occurrence of these types of events only expected to increase in coming years, there has been a corresponding increase in global calls to action to develop monitoring systems to better predict and wherever possible, prevent these failures from occurring.

With an estimated 20,000 tailings dams around the world, the development and implementation of a worldwide monitoring protocol is a daunting task, particularly as many of these structures are remote and difficult to access. This is where technology like InSAR can make an immediate impact. InSAR is a remote sensing technique that uses radar satellite imagery to measure ground movement with up to millimetric precision. Radar systems are active, meaning they collect information from reflections of the radar signal off the ground and therefore do not require the installation of any equipment. As satellite images cover areas that extend thousands of square kilometres, they can provide information not only on the stability of dams but also entire regions. Global archives already exist due to the Sentinel-1 constellation of satellites, which provide coverage since 2014 over most parts of the world.

Although tailings dams are constructed to provide permanent containment of mining by-products, experience has shown that they can fail, often with dire consequences, especially if these failures occur without warning. The development of an internationally accepted standard for tailings dam monitoring is imperative to ensure the safety and resiliency of these structures are continuously tracked. Our presentation explores the role InSAR can play in the development of a global protocol for tailings dam monitoring.

Be sure to stop by our booth #3 to learn more about InSAR tools for risk assessment over dams and tailings storage facilities.