In February 2019, Inmarsat announced a new solution for the remote monitoring, analysis and real-time management of tailings dams, designed in collaboration with the Knight Piésold UK consultancy and an unnamed mining company.
After the launch, Joe Carr, director of mining innovation at Inmarsat, speaking to MM, said it used field connectivity called long range wide area network (LoRaWAN) to collect the sensor data at the edge.
"It is very reliable and also a very long range network that works between 5-15km depending on ground terrain conditions. This means that we can employ one or two base stations, which can aggregate data from potentially thousands of instruments and sensors across a dam," he explained.
Now, Inmarsat will work with Glass Terra to integrate its monitoring solution with the latter's IoT LiDAR scanning devices to enhance tailings facility management in Australia.
Glass Terra's technology will assist in building a 3-D picture of the dam and detect whether there has been any soil slippage or movement in the embankment.
Inmarsat, in turn, will deploy its instrument-agnostic solution, which can visualise key data on its cloud dashboard via its Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) satellite connectivity.
This should enable technicians and auditors to monitor the structural integrity of tailings dams, as well as piezometric pressure, water quality and flow rate in real time.
Commenting on the new partnership, Carr said the project would mark the first time LiDAR and real-time instrument monitoring have been used in tandem like this.
"It represents a step change in terms of the detailed data picture that engineers will be able to access, increasing their ability to manage mine tailings facilities effectively," he added.
"Satellite connectivity-enabled tailings monitoring solutions, such as those delivered by Inmarsat, can play a pivotal role in providing this kind of transparency at closed mine sites where there is no connectivity infrastructure, as well as at active mines in remote areas."
Glass Terra CCO Sophia Li said: "The combined solution will demonstrate the ability to conduct real-time monitoring of unplanned movements of earth such as embankments on tailings facilities. Currently, under safety regulations, unplanned movements of earth are generally classed as high potential incidents which need to be reported and investigated."