A Queensland company has been commissioned to custom build state of the art motion sensors to detect ground disturbance and provide early warning of environmental disasters like tailings dam collapses. The new technology brings the internet of things (IoT) to major engineering structures and is part of a breakthrough monitoring system called EarthSub being developed by Automated Infrastructure Monitoring (AIM).
Hetech Managing Director Mark Steiner said Australia was leading the development of digital solutions that would be instrumental in preventing major tailings dam disasters like the Brumadinho Dam collapse, in Brazil, which claimed 270 lives and led to the introduction of new world standards for dam monitoring.
Earlier this year, communities affected by the disaster were awarded a $7bn compensation from Vale, one of the world’s biggest iron ore miners.
Miners are under unprecedented scrutiny when it comes to protecting lives and the environment,” Mr Steiner said.
“The world currently has its eyes on climate change and global warming technologies – and rightly so, but the industry also needs to maintain a strong focus on preventing other environmental disasters.
“Until now, the sensitivity of monitors has been a weak link in the evolution of sophisticated mine monitoring systems.
“Hetech has specially developed the new system of sensors for gold mine in New South Wales to detect and measure a big range of unique local risks – from fast soil movements that indicate a dam breakage, as well as slower, more subtle movements that give early warning of potential problems.
“This gives asset owners the ability to monitor their assets remotely, around the clock. By tracking subtle ground shifts, they have a very real opportunity to correct problems before they occur.
“Most companies are responsible and keen to do the right thing but much of the storage infrastructure is ageing and there are big challenges for monitoring facilities in remote locations and achieving compliance with new international safety standards.”
AIM Managing Director, Peter King said the system was a unique solution for remote, real-time monitoring of tailings dams and other ‘at risk’ structural assets to detect impending catastrophic failures.
Following the introduction of the new Australian system in NSW, it will be commercialised for other local miners as well as for the global market. The system is the result of two years of research and development and was commissioned by AIM, an Australian company leading the development of the Earthsub ground monitoring system.