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Mine Monitoring: More than Movement Detection

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December 2020 www. .com 18 MINE SAFETY Monitoring provides more than movement detection Deformation monitoring is vital to staff safety and project management, writes Trimble Monitoring's Jesse Huff* D eformation monitoring is a critical component of safe mining operations. Constant, robust evaluation of potential movement data is paramount in making decisions regarding the safety of people, production and the environment. Providing this data in a clear, user-friendly format ensures components such as slope stability, structural integrity and potential movement hot-spots are communi- cated in a standard format across multiple professional disciplines. WHY MONITOR? Monitoring a mining operation is typically viewed as a critical safety- of-life system. Monitoring may be required in the approved project plans, and monitoring systems also present opportunities to streamline certain operations and more effec- tively manage the site. In basic terms, a monitoring sys- tem detects movements. This could range from velocity changes to the rates of shrinkage and swell. Deliberate measurements are repeated over and over so that, when movement becomes sus- pected, steps can be taken to shore up a slope or mitigate the fall areas beneath the risk area. Expert analysis and interpretation of the data greatly increases the chance to be better prepared for – or even sometimes prevent – failures, such as a slip or collapse. With this information at hand, it is easier to make decisions that can protect lives, as well as reduce or eliminate costly repairs. The biggest benefits from moni- toring are gained through an auto- mated system. Rather than manually collecting measurements, which can be more costly due to staff hours required and which introduces more risk to the surveyor or engineer on site, automated monitoring provides a constant, real-time data set that allows project stakeholders to confi- dently make data-based decisions. Once the system is set up and run- ning, life safety is increased and everyone on site can focus their time and energy on keeping operations running smoothly. In more safety-critical and hazard- ous settings, such as tailings dams, an automated monitoring system significantly reduces the need for surveyors and engineers to be on-site, greatly reducing exposure to this typically highly toxic environ- ment. This is yet another way moni- toring helps maintaining life safety. WHERE TO BEGIN? Local government, mine authorities, and/or regulations will provide the timeline requirements that deter- mine when a mine must incorporate monitoring. When monitoring is added to the operations, it could be at the start of a project or once a certain depth in the ground is reached. Once timing is determined, the next step is to decide whether an automated or manual monitoring system would best suit the site. AUTOMATED OR MANUAL? Specific details from the type of site to how long it will be in operation, communication systems available and the type of mining methods being used are taken into account when designing the monitoring system. In the case of an underground mine, communication poses several challenges. Line of sight can be diffi- cult and sometimes impossible to achieve, and power and communica- tions access are typically not plentiful. An integrated monitoring setup using Trimble Zephyr 3 Geodetic GNSS antenna and Trimble Monitoring prism overlooking an openpit mine

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