How safe is your tailings storage facility?

Researchers are posing this question to the international mining community as part of an upcoming project to assess tailing storage facilities (TSF) monitoring systems.

The Evaluation of Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF) Monitoring Technologies is a cornerstone project of Amira Global and will begin in July with eleven sponsors on board.  The research will be completed by a team at The University of Western Australia.

Program Manager with Amira Global, Dr Olga Verezub, said the project is designed to help companies evaluate the efficacy of technology on their sites.

“We recognise the question is unsettling as the industry is generally doing all it can to ensure TSF are safe and secure,” Dr Verezub said.

 “Each TSF is different; equipment that is suitable for one TSF may not work on a nearby facility due to a host of structural and environmental factors”.

“The Evaluation of TSF Monitoring Technologies is a unique opportunity for the global mining community to have some of the world’s best researchers examine their monitoring technology to ensure they have the best available systems on their sites.”

Project Lead and Professor at the University of Western Australia (UWA), Andy Fourie, said the project will have two phases.

The first phase will examine current monitoring systems in the marketplace to produce an independent report on their performance.

The second phase involves assessing the systems already in place on mining sites. Two mining companies have already offered operational sites for evaluation, with four other mining companies signed up as project observers.

“The first phase is to look at the performance of TSF equipment. In recent years there has been a huge surge in TSF monitoring technology and I believe a lot of engineers and mine owners are confused about what’s good, what’s average and what’s in fact useless. The intention is to develop completely objective criteria which we will use to evaluate available and emerging technologies with a view to providing a report for sponsors,” Professor Fourie said.

“In the second phase, we will create a digital twin of specific TSFs using data generated in the UWA labs by testing undisturbed and disturbed samples of tailings and foundation soils from the sites. The digital twin will be stress tested to determine whether the model and the information provided by the monitoring system align.”

“We call this meaningful monitoring.”

Dr Verezub said sponsors were able to join the program at any point, although mining companies were encouraged to join at the beginning to ensure researchers could access their TSF and thereby provide added value through the development of a testing database, digital twin and installation of targeted monitoring systems. View the The Evaluation of Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF) Monitoring Technologies project for more information.