Improve tailings monitoring solutions

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ICMM strengthens operational management practices for the design, operation and closure of conventionally managed tailings facilities. Our aim is to deliver improvements to existing controls and monitoring solutions in the short term.

Performance monitoring of tailings facilities is a key element of responsible tailings management. Monitoring is also a critical input for informing the timely implementation of Emergency Response Plans (ERPs), if indicators are triggered that indicate that upset conditions are potentially going to occur. Recent structural failures of tailings facilities have placed a focus on the adequacy of current monitoring systems and the effectiveness of Trigger Action Response Plans (TARPs) and ERPs, which rely on timely interpretation of monitoring data. Advancement in performance monitoring is needed to rapidly collect and display, high confidence monitoring data within the mining industry.

Integration of monitoring data with overall Tailings Management Systems (eg TARPs and ERPs) is often managed using a variety of separate software packages or spreadsheets. This ad hoc approach can result in less-than-optimal data interpretation and issues with timely communication of performance at the facility. An integrated package will enable rapid collection, display, quality-checking, management of data and management of workflows, to improve monitoring and response plans. Any package will need to have standardised and scalable hardware and/or software, utilising proven techniques for managing database information and control systems where applicable. It should also have the ability for remote viewing and assessment of data using secure connection and controlled access.

ICMM members are looking for opportunities to engage with vendors, practitioners and researchers to develop integrated systems/solutions and workflow tools that can manage the large datasets coming from land-based instrumentation and remote sensing technologies. There needs to be an adaptable data model – a platform that can support the configuration of models that can infer from the information what has happened in the facility historically and predict what will happen going forward and post-closure. The workflow tools should: help to manage and document the monitoring process; schedule, trigger and complete relevant activities; and connect to TARPs and ERPs.

Vendors and research institutions that can provide the relevant solutions and technologies to strengthen the monitoring and surveillance of tailings facilities are being invited to attend regular vendor engagement sessions. ICMM members have committed to implement the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management so that all facilities with ‘Extreme’ or ‘Very high’ potential consequences will be in conformance with the Standard by August 2023, and all other facilities by August 2025. ICMM welcomes vendors to present on how their tools have evolved to assist members in meeting these requirements.