January’s fatal tailings dam collapse at Vale SA’s Corrego do Feijao mine has sent the global mining industry once again scrambling to check the integrity of its tailings management systems.
The January 26 tailings dam collapse at the Corrego do Feijao mine near the town of Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais, killed more than 300 people and came just four years after the Samarco tailings collapse in the same state became Brazil’s worst environmental disaster and also killed 19 people.
Brazi’s mining regulator ordered Vale to suspend operations at its Fabrica and Vargem Grande complexes immediately after the Brumadinho disaster.
In a statement, Vale said the mining regulator ordered the suspension in light of the possible failure of five dams at the mining sites in the interior state of Minas Gerais. Since then, both authorities and mining companies have stepped up scrutiny of so-called upstream dams, which have been subject to multiple high-profile failures in recent years.
In a statement, Vale said it was abiding by the regulator’s decision but was asking the body for permission to dismantle the dams, while continuing some operations at the mine, “which would bring about limited impacts on production”.
The miner did not offer an estimate on how much production likely would be lost. However, the company had previously planned to maintain operations at Fabrica via dry mining, which eliminates the need for upstream dams. The company estimated that plan would result in 3mt of lost production in 2019.
“The cost of the wireless monitoring makes more sense than a couple of employees driving around different locations, taking measurements every few months. It eliminates errors, increases safety in remote locations and reduces costs because it is less labour-intensive,” - Kim Malcolm, Geomotion
Minas Gerais is still recovering from the 2015 Samarco collapse which buried a village and poured toxic waste into a major river.
Vale chief executive Fabio Schvartsman said the dam that burst was being decommissioned and its capacity was about a fifth of the total waste spilled at Samarco.
Schvartsman said there had not been any recent construction around the dam and apologised without taking responsibility in a television interview.
“Apologies to society, apologies to you, apologies to the whole world for what has happened,” he said. “I don’t know who is responsible, but you can be sure we’ll do our part.”
The disaster prompted the world’s largest miners to announce risk reviews of their tailings facilities.
BHP Ltd, which was Vale’s JV partner in Samarco, said it had “significantly increased the rigour of its assessment and management” of tailings since 2015, including a risk review which resulted in more than 400 actions being assigned to company assets.
“These actions are 93% complete, with the remaining actions considered low priority such as administrative actions and long-lead items regarding closure and climate change impacts. None of these actions is overdue,” the company said in a statement on February 19.
Rio Tinto Ltd – which has 100 active tailing facilities and a further 36 closed or under rehabilitation – said its tailings facilities were subject to three levels of governance and assurance.
“In August 2015, Rio Tinto introduced a standard for management of tailings and water storage facilities in order to ensure all our managed facilities are operated in accordance with one global standard,” chief executive J-S Jacques said. “In light of this tragic event, Rio Tinto is again reviewing its global standard and, in particular, assessing how we can further strengthen the existing audit of facilities.”
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the disaster is how late Vale was in recognising the dangers.
Schvartsman said equipment had shown the dam was stable on January 10 and it was too soon to say why it collapsed. However, according to Geomotion Australia managing director Kim Malcolm, modern instrumentation and software allow for real-time monitoring of tailings facilities.
“In the past it was prohibitive to have real-time monitoring because of all the cabling required but now wireless data loggers are readily available; there was never previously anything available that could do that,” he said.
Geomotion works with a number of major miners in Australia including Rio Tinto, South32 Ltd and Newmont Australia providing geotechnical and structural instrumentation and asset monitoring. Malcolm said the days of having just a few sensors on a tailings dam, intermittently monitored by hand were rapidly ending.
“The cost of the wireless monitoring makes more sense than a couple of employees driving around different locations, taking measurements every few months. It eliminates errors, increases safety in remote locations and reduces costs because it is less labour-intensive,” he said.
Software such as the Mission Monitoring operating system also allows companies to anticipate problems as well as alerting them to impending spills.
“It is less about the alarms but about the constant, real-time review,” Malcolm said. “It allows you to see the trends well before anything happens.”
The web-based software could also present opportunities for companies to better relate their tailings management to affected communities.
“The software is designed so alarms are set up on individual smart phones,” Malcolm said. “It allows companies to select who has access to the alarms and they can even present the monitoring data on open websites to ensure their management has a more public-facing interface.”
– Dominic Piper - Australia's Paydirt (March 2019)
In line with the current VIBRA-series, of which thousands are now in use worldwide, Geomotion partner, Profound BV, proudly introduce the new VIBRA+. Later this year the new standard VIBRA will also be available.
New features of the VIBRA+:
The final piece of Sydney's WestConnex puzzle has been placed, after the New South Wales Government today announced stage three of the controversial project had been approved.
It means a tunnel will be built connecting the M4 at Haberfield to the M5 at St Peters — a development WestConnex Minister Stuart Ayres described as being "like the Sydney Harbour Bridge".
It will create a non-stop bypass of Sydney's CBD and inner-west, slashing travel times.
However, the proposal has also attracted significant opposition.
This time last year, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore briefed Premier Gladys Berejiklian on a set of alternatives at a meeting.
The $17 billion WestConnex development has been previously described by the NSW Government as the world's biggest road project.
Stage three will also include links to the Iron Cove Bridge and Rozelle Interchange.
Mr Ayres said the tunnel was crucial to the city's transport future.
"Like the Sydney Harbour Bridge did for the North Shore, the M4-M5 Link will bridge a major gap in the road network, creating a non-stop underground western bypass of Sydney's CBD, slashing travel times and delivering over 18 hectares of open space for local communities," he said.
In August 2017, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for WestConnex stage three said the project would slash travel times from Sydney's western suburbs to the CBD.
It argued the 55-kilometre trip from Penrith to the CBD could cost drivers $22 today, but when WestConnex was finished, the tolls would be capped at $8.60 for the same journey.
Final stage 'hasn't even been designed', Labor says
Labor's roads spokeswoman Jodi McKay accused the Government of trying to avoid public scrutiny by announcing the approval on a Friday afternoon.
"This is the largest infrastructure project in the states history, the final stage of it, and no one is around to actually enlighten people about this project," she said.
Ms McKay said the Government rushed the approval process for the Rozelle interchange and ignored community concerns because it is seeking to sell the Sydney Motorway Corporation.
"This is an extraordinary situation given the Government has approved something that hasn't even been designed," she said.
"There has been no community consolation, there has been no transparency yet suddenly today we find out it's been approved."
Project settled behind closed doors: Greens
Reacting to the approval of West Connex's final stage, Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne said: "What we've just discovered is that West Connex stage three was secretly approved 10 days ago behind closed doors".
"No wonder the Government is ashamed of this wasteful project," Mr Byrne said.
"Throughout the Inner West we're now going to see more smoke stacks and the mother of all rat runs.
"With the demolition of homes, the secrecy behind the West Connex project, people know this Government has it in for us and...[stage three] will be worse than anything we've seen yet."
Mr Byrne said he wanted "to see the Government invest in a proper solution to modern congestion which is of course...public transport."
'We need to see transparency'
State Greens MP and member for Newtown, Jenny Leong, said "the arrogance of the Berejiklian Government knows no bounds".
"We have seen tens of thousands of submissions from the community and experts opposing this (project).
"The public appetite is there... to open up the books.
"The community have put their concerns front and centre in this planning process."
Ms Leong said the NSW Greens were pushing for more transparency.
"We are urging the NSW Labor Opposition and the crossbenchers of the upper house to support the Greens' call for the exposure of the papers. We need to see transparency and accountability."
SOURCE: ABC News
The Forrestfield-Airport Link (FAL) project will deliver an 8.5 km extension of the existing PTA urban rail network in Perth, Western Australia connecting the Midland Line, just past Bayswater Station, to Forrestfield, running underground in twin bored tunnels underneath the Swan River, Tonkin Highway and Perth Airport. The project will include three new stations, being: Redcliffe Station (located underground in Redcliffe), Airport Central Station (located underground at Perth Airport to service both domestic and international terminals) and Forrestfield Station.
The project will provide new rail services allowing a 20-minute rail journey from Forrestfield Station to the Perth CBD, improved bus networks for the eastern suburbs, foothills and surrounding communities as well as integration with the full Transperth bus and train network.
Redcliffe Station and Forrestfield Station will have rail-bus interchanges and up to 2,500 new car parking bays in total.
Description of Geomotion Works
Salini Impregilo S.p.A. - NRW Pty Ltd Joint Venture (SI- NRW JV) has entered into an agreement with Field Monitoring Services, Geomotion Australia, Land Surveys Joint Venture (FGLS JV) for the work of:
“SUPPLY, INSTALLATION, TESTING, OPERATION, MAINTENANCE OF GEOTECHNICAL AND SURVEY INSTRUMENTATION, INCLUSIVE OF MONITORING AND MIMS MANAGEMENT FOR FORRESTFIELD AIRPORT LINK PROJECT”.
Geomotion is working as a part of Joint Venture partner and broadly responsible for the followings works:
A NSW goldmine forced to shut down for three months last year after an earthquake has again halted operations following a dam wall breach.
The wall of a tailings dam at the Cadia mine, about 20km south of Orange, partially collapsed on Friday after there were two magnitude 2.7 earthquakes in the region on Thursday.
Its operator Newcrest Mining says there is no threat to personal safety and it has secured the area around the dam.
A "comprehensive geotechnical monitoring system" was implemented, the company said on Saturday.
The material involved, which was contained within the southern dam, was described as "a slurry of finely ground rock, water and a low level of benign processing re-agents".
The mine was forced to shut down after it was hit by a magnitude 4.3 earthquake in April 2017 and didn't return to partial production until July, causing a huge hit to the company's first-half profit.
Source: The West Australian (AAP)
The Western Harbour Tunnel & Beaches Link is a planned north-south motorway along the current alignment of Wakehurst Parkway between Warringah Road, Frenchs Forest and the WestConnex motorway in Sydney. Up to 235 borehole sites will be tested in suburbs including Balgowlah, Seaforth, North Sydney, Neutral Bay and Cammeray. These investigations will feed into engineering design, final costings for the project and further route analysis.
As part of the geotechnical investigation, Geomotion was commissioned by AECOM to install Vibrating Wire Piezometers (VWP’s) at three inclined borehole locations along the proposed alignment. At each location, up to four VWP’s were installed at lengths of up to 160 m to monitor specified zones of ground water pressure. Each location was fitted with a Rippa 3G data logger with Stalker VW interface. Each of the four data loggers were custom designed and built to fit in the top of the borehole underneath a trafficable GATIC.
The data loggers have been programmed to upload hourly readings to a cloud based server. Data is presented showing fluctuations in water pressure (kPa), meters below ground level (mBGL), meters Australian Height Datum (mAHD), meters head of water (mH20).
Geomotion has also supplied and commissioned twelve water level data loggers. The system comprises a Sisgeo 4-20mA piezometer and Rippa 3G data logger installed within standpipe piezometers all housed beneath a trafficable GATIC. The water level is recorded hourly and uploaded on a 12 hourly basis, presented on Outpost’s online data management system. The system brings in data from nearby BOM stations to correct for barometric pressure changes and present rainfall data.
Geomotion have been commissioned to supply and install geotechnical instrumentation for the Waste Fines Storage Facility Project at Hope Downs 4 DSP Pit.
The Hope Downs 4 (HD4) mine is an iron ore mine located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, 100 kilometres northwest of Newman. The mine is partly owned and operated by Rio Tinto Iron Ore (RTIO) and is one of twelve iron ore mines the company operates in the Pilbara.
UON’s client RTIO required an increase in capacity to the mining site's current waste fines facilities, necessary to continue plant operations. The works involved supply, install and construct the piping and waste fines facilities infrastructure including geotechnical monitoring equipment, relocation of existing infrastructure inclusive of the removal and replacement of HV and fibre optic cable, pumping equipment and an extension to the piping facilities inclusive of trenching earthworks.
The geotechnical monitoring system used the proven Vibrating Wire (VW) Technology on Piezometers and Pressure Cells running below ground conduit excavation along the pit bench attached to Load Sensing VW Node Dataloggers inside two Terminal Boxes located at the pit surface for remote monitoring.
The VW Piezometers were installed in 20L buckets filled with saturated waste fines slurry to measure and monitor pore water pressures. The VW Pressure Cells were installed on 500x200mm blinding concrete plinths, backfilled with waste fines, to determine the distribution, magnitude and directions of total soil pressure. The design will be used to monitor and control placement of ﬁll and essentially provide adequate warning of excess soil pressures into the operational life of the pit structure.
Geomotion are excited to announce the launch of GLS Monitoring; a collaboration between Geomotion and Land Surveys to provide a complete monitoring solution for major projects.
GLS Monitoring offer the respective expertise and experience from the two companies, offered as a single port of call for project wide monitoring including precision survey, state of the art instrumentation, cutting edge telemetry and comprehensive reporting.
To kick off this venture, we're proud to be sponsoring the incredibly talented Alex Rullo at Bathurst 1000 2017. Here's to a successful weekend Alex!
THE word “smart” is ubiquitous these days. If you believe the hype, smart farms will all employ sensors to report soil conditions, crop growth or the health of livestock. Smart cities will monitor the levels of pollution and noise on every street corner. And smart goods in warehouses will tell robots where to store them, and how. Getting this to work, however, requires figuring out how to get thousands of sensors to transmit data reliably across hundreds of metres. On September 15th, at a computing conference held in Miami, Shyam Gollakota and his colleagues at the University of Washington are due to unveil a gadget that can do exactly that—and with only a fraction of the power required by the best devices currently available.
Dr Gollakota’s invention uses a technology called “LoRa” (from “long range”). Like Wi-Fi, this allows computers to talk to each other with radio waves. Unlike Wi-Fi, though, LoRa is not easily blocked by walls, furniture and other obstacles. That is partly because LoRa uses lower-frequency radio waves than Wi-Fi (900MHz rather than 2.4GHz). Such waves pass through objects more easily. More importantly, LoRa devices make use of a technique called “chirp spread modulation”. That means the frequency of the carrier wave—the basic radio wave, which is then deliberately deformed in order to carry data—rises and falls in a sawtooth pattern. That makes even faint LoRa signals easy to distinguish from background noise, which fluctuates randomly.
Generating that carrier wave requires a lot of power. But modulating it, in order to impress data upon it, can be done by a chip that consumes almost no power at all. Conventional LoRa transmitters do both jobs. Dr Gollakota proposes to separate them.
In his take on the system, a central transmitter, hooked up to a big battery or to the mains, broadcasts the carrier wave, while the task of impregnating it with data is done by a chip on the sensor. It accomplishes that by choosing to earth its tiny aerial, or not, millions of times every second. When the aerial is earthed, part of the carrier wave will be absorbed. When it is not, it will be reflected. If one of those cases is deemed to stand for “1” while the other represents “0”, the chip can relay data back to a receiver with the whole process controlled by three tiny, and thus very frugal, electronic switches.
Dr Gollakota reckons that such chips can be made for less than 20 cents apiece. The signals they generate can be detected at ranges of hundreds of metres. Yet with a power consumption of just 20 millionths of a watt, a standard watch battery should keep them going a decade or more. In fact, it might be possible to power them from ambient energy: Dr Gollakota and his colleagues have experimented with running the chips from the electricity generated when light strikes a small photodiode. Like other LoRa devices, the chips are slow, transmitting data at about the speed of an old-fashioned dial-up modem. But most smart sensors will produce just a trickle of data in any case.
The researchers are keeping quiet, for the time being, about the orders they have received. But early applications could be medical. The team have incorporated the chips into contact lenses and a skin patch. In hospitals, the chips could help track everything from patient gurneys to syringes and stethoscopes. Last year, Dr Gollakota unveiled variants of the chips that use ordinary Wi-Fi, too. These, he says, are in the process of making their way into disposable drug-delivery devices that notify patients via their phones when their medication is running low. That seems like a smart start.
This article appeared in the Science and technology section of the print edition of The Ecomomist under the headline "Cheap and cheerful"
Source: The Ecomomist
As a result of continued growth over the past few years, Geomotion Australia has relocated our NSW operations from Balmain to Alexandria. This upgrade has enabled us to triple our workspace, optimise and increase warehousing and workshop operations and expand the office to accommodate our growing team.
This move allows us to:
Our new NSW address is:
Unit 32 / 56 O’Riordan Street
Alexandria, New South Wales, Australia 2015
Should you have any questions regarding the move, or would like to come and visit, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
Peter Scott | Australian Manager