Aerial photos provide new look at tailings storage facilities

Jul 2, 2015

The management of tailings storage facilities (TSFs) is one of the top priorities for a mine’s management team. Obtaining detailed information about a mine’s TSF can prove difficult due to the nature of these areas which tend to be geographically large with surfaces that are not generally trafficable or with variable beach surfaces that are not always visible from the edge.

In the June/July issue of the Canadian Mining Journal, Michael Bender of Golder Associates’ Calgary office, examines how survey-grade unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), such as the fixed-wing senseFly eBee, can help measure the remaining containment capacity of the TSF, show how this changes over time via multiple surveys, measure the beach slope to plan for future spigotting arrangements, and characterize the surface cracking and other features to improve future evaporation estimates. These UAVs are designed for accurate topographic surveys using photogrammetry techniques to interpret overlapping photographs and have advantages over LIDAR, satellites and aircraft that may be used for similar purposes.

Like all tools, UAVs have their limitations however the potential benefits of using UAVs in TSF monitoring make it an option worth considering.

Read the full article on page 26, or in the provided pdf version, of the June/July 2015 issue of the Canadian Mining Journal to learn more about the variety of ways UAVs are successfully being used in the mining industry.