Wide-area monitoring of tailings dams in Brazil++

COUNTRY:
Brazil

PROJECT TYPE:
Tailings dam monitoring

SECTOR:
Mining

MAIN PRODUCT:
Loadsensing

Challenge

A Brazilian mine has a complex tailing dam monitoring system that covers 22 dams. The mine consultant and Worldsensing partner, Tetra Tech, in charge of dam monitoring needs to gather real-time data from various sensors (piezometers, water level sensors and inclinometers) installed across different tailings dams and send the data to a database server and workstation. One site includes seven dams within a 7 km radio range.

radio-range-wireless-solutions

Figure 1: The red circles represent the radio ranges of different wireless solutions in optimal conditions. The outermost circle represents Loadsensing’s radio range in a site with 16 tailings dams.

Solution

A network of 467 Loadsensing vibrating wire, analog and digital data nodes send real-time data to 10 gateways connected to the mine’s private network.

Two gateways at one of the sites receive data from 158 Loadsensing data nodes including vibrating wire 1-channel nodes connected to piezometers, analog nodes connected to ultrasonic water level meters and digital data nodes connected to chains of in-place inclinometers.

For connectivity, Loadsensing uses LoRa: a long-range, low-power wireless technology used by IoT networks worldwide. Features of the system include:

  • Range: The monitoring system uses a star network topology that can cover a range of up to nine miles/15 km without any repeaters.
  • Radio: Loadsensing has a radio sensitivity of up to -137 dBm, which makes the signal up to 32 times stronger than other wireless monitoring systems with radio sensitivity of only -101dBM.
  • Casing: The nodes are IP-67 rated and have been tested in temperatures ranging from -40ºC to +80ºC, so they are able to withstand the harshest environments.
  • Certification: Loadsensing has been tested and certified by ANATEL, the telecommunications regulation agency in Brazil, making it apt for deployment across the country.

loadsensing-vibrating-wire-1-channel-piezometer

Figure 3: A Loadsensing vibrating wire 1-channel node connected to a vibrating wire piezometer.

Benefits

The wireless configuration of the data acquisition system eliminates the need for expensive cabling and manual monitoring. Laying cables in a tailings dam requires trenches and cable protection against issues such as settlements in the embankment. At each regrowth, new sensors have to be added, again requiring expensive cable installation. A wireless system provides data from sensors in near-real time, versus manually collected readings with a more sporadic periodicity and vulnerability to human errors.

With Loadsensing, mines may realize savings of up to 30% on the acquisition of materials and infrastructure and up to 40% on installation. Reliable data related to the behavior of the dam also helps minimize risks and to ensure the safety not only of mine employees but also of residents. Loadsensing contributes to the sustainable growth of the mining industry by ensuring compliance with safety regulations and standards.

About Loadsensing by Worldsensing

Loadsensing is the leading wireless monitoring system by IoT pioneer Worldsensing. The system allows mining operators to connect and wirelessly monitor tailings dams and excavations in over 80 mines across 20 countries. Worldsensing collaborates with a variety of technology partners in the monitoring and mining industry to offer a global solution for safety monitoring and risk management in mines.

About TETRA TECH
Tetra Tech is a leading provider of consulting and engineering services and Worldsensing partner in Brazil. With 20,000 associates, Tetra Tech’s capabilities span the entire project life cycle in more than 450 offices around the world. Tetra Tech South American supports government and commercial clients by providing innovative solutions focused on Environmental and Social Studies, Compliance & Environmental Management, Engineering, Geotechnologies, Geotechnical, Environmental Assessment & Remediation, Mine Planning and, Oceanography, Water and Costal Engineering. They are based in 5 cities: Belo Horizonte, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and São Paulo, which provide services to the Energy, Oil and Gas, Ports, Mining, Socio-territorial planning / Environmental, Industries and Infrastructure sectors.

Several tailings dams in Brazil have selected ANATEL-certified Loadsensing data nodes and gateways to minimize the risk of tailings dam failures without incurring significant cabling and manual maintenance costs.

Advantages

  • Radio signals, at -137dBM, are 32 times stronger than other wireless monitoring systems
  • Gateways and nodes cover areas spanning several municipalities
  • Monitoring is more cost-effective and less intrusive than using cables
  • The system is robust in extreme environments and temperatures

The adoption of Loadsensing IoT technology eliminates the need for cabling, reduces manual monitoring and allows significant savings up to 30% on the acquisition of materials and infrastructure and up to 40% on installation.

Leonardo Santana, Geotechnology Technical Leader, Tetra Tech

Wide-area monitoring of tailings dams in Brazil

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