4IR For Safe Mining

Slurry dams are a risk across mines around the world. By using LPWAN IoT devices, Big Data and trend-analysis, we are able to detect changes in the x-, y- and z-axes of the wall of a slurry dam every hour. By detecting changes in the wall of a slurry dam, this enables proactive management of a potential crisis.

There have been 32 recorded major slurry dam failures between 2008 and 2018, including the failure of mining company Vale’s dam in Brazil in which 300 people are presumed dead.

Some Facts:

Slurry dams are used to store water and waste that come as by products from the mining process and can reach 300 metres high.

Most slurry dams use the cheaper but more dangerous  method of construction, using the slurry itself to create a barrier.

As the slurry of waste is piped into the dam, the solids settle to the bottom and the water is recycled to be used in the separation process again.

Tailings dams need regular maintenance and monitoring to ensure that there is sufficient drainage and the dam is strong enough to contain the mining waste.

Tailings dams can pose a threat to local wildlife as birds and animals bathe in and drink from the contaminated waters.

In Canada, the Mount Polley copper-gold mine dam collapse in 2014 released 25 million cubic metres of wastewater and tailings into adjacent water systems and lakes. That’s enough to fill 20,000 Olympic swimming pools.


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