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Collaboration to improve tailings monitoring solutions

Performance monitoring is fundamental to assuring that sound design leads to safe construction, operation and secure closure of tailings facilities. Performance monitoring, using high confidence data, is critical to effectively manage tailings facilities and a requirement for transparent communication to stakeholders.

This is a key aspect of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (the Standard) published in 2020. ICMM members are committed to implementing all requirements of the Standard by 2023 for ‘Extreme’ and ‘Very High’ consequence facilities, and by 2025 for all other facilities.

ICMM's work in tailings monitoring

Background

Since 2019, ICMM has been engaging with tailings monitoring providers to understand the range of solutions available. The objective of the engagement was to provide ICMM members with an opportunity to learn more about the latest technology and innovative solutions in the tailings monitoring and surveillance space. The purpose was to strengthen monitoring and surveillance of tailings facilities, with a view to increasing collaboration between ICMM members, suppliers and academic institutions to significantly improve tailings management. With the publication of the Standard in 2020, ICMM members were also keen to understand how the available monitoring solutions could be tailored to help industry meet the requirements of the Standard.

ICMM recognises that over the course of the last three years, work has progressed rapidly in this space and now numerous integrated systems and solutions are being used by ICMM members to monitor their tailings facilities. During this time, ICMM has obtained a wealth of

information on the supplier landscape the types of products on offer and their development stage. This information is shared in the PDF summary to allow suppliers and operators to understand who is operating in this space and are open to collaboration. With the ultimate aim of catalysing the development of more effective tailings monitoring solutions that will help the industry as a whole

Process summary

ICMM outlined a number of challenges with current performance monitoring solutions in a problem statement and received almost 100 expressions of interest from suppliers to participate in the initiative.

These challenges included ability to rapidly collate, interpret and display results from various instruments in a single package, data quality management, ability for remote viewing, integration of monitoring data with overall tailings management system and requirement to escalate when results exceed set trigger levels.

The solutions to the identified challenges included a wide range of software/hardware packages, as well as integrated solutions to demonstrate conformance with the Standard.

Objective of monitoring

The objective of instrument monitoring is to collect data to be used to assess the performance of the tailings facility against the site specific performance objectives and indicators, and the risk management plan.

For it to be effective, the monitoring results should be collated, examined, analysed and reported in a timely and effective manner to the decision makers. It should also be applied across the lifecycle of a tailings facility, while adapting to the specific needs of each lifecycle phase and changing site conditions.

There is no 'one size fits all' approach to tailings monitoring and each programme should be designed on a site-specific basis to give accurate information on tailings facility performance. Instrument monitoring is in addition to site observation and inspections by appropriately experienced individuals and under no circumstances should visual inspections ever be fully replaced by instrumentation for an active facility.

Suppliers operating in the tailings monitoring space

The suppliers who opted-in to this summary are shown in the PDF summary. These suppliers are mapped against a simplified tailings monitoring system requirement framework, starting with inputs (e.g. provision of sensors) and ranging through data storage and analysis to reporting.

ICMM is technology agnostic and does not endorse a particular supplier or solution. The details presented herein have been provided based on information submitted to ICMM during the engagement process and with permission of the suppliers involved.