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Slope Stability Radar system detects dam or mine collapses, saving lives and revenue

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A sudden collapse in an open-cut mine or dam can be devastating for mining companies and their employers, with potential loss of life and revenue. But a world-leading system from GroundProbe is winning awards because of its unrivalled ability to detect collapses.

Slope Stability Radar (SSR) has become essential for mine personnel to detect collapses before they happen, therefore saving lives and equipment and keeping production rolling. Among these technologies, GroundProbe’s slope stability radar SSR-Omni is making big waves in open-cut mining because of its ability to detect movement, the critical precursor to collapses.

SSR-Omni recently won the top award at the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards (AEEA) for monitoring open-pit mine slopes, walls and tailings dams. The groundbreaking system is designed to detect movement hotspots in a fraction of the time it takes other technologies by performing an ultrafast, high-resolution scan in 360 degrees.

GroundProbe established the first commercialised SSR system as a PhD project for Queensland University back in 2001. It was a commercial success and rapidly adopted overseas. The company’s Omni system has been similarly popular and is in operation in Chile, United States and Mexico, where it is actively driving safety and productivity.

Reports indicate it has already successfully detected a number of potentially deadly collapses, including a propagating collapse in an open-pit mine wall in the US, and predicted the time of collapse of another open-pit mine slope in Australia.

How does it work?

The SSR-Omni is both a real-time monitoring and alarm system. The system scans an area of 11.2km in diameter in 40 seconds, taking a total of 37 million measurements and detecting hotspots of movement – representing potential collapse sites – in rock or ground to 0.1mm precision.

The SSR-Omni produces detailed 2D and 3D visualisations of potential collapse sites by processing over 600MB of raw data with an embedded supercomputer complete with propriety algorithms to crunch the data and predict the line of collapse. Monitoring can be carried out in any kind of weather, even when visibility is poor.

Mining personnel can visually inspect movement sites in real-time thanks to a day/night high-resolution camera system that streams a series of video feeds 24 hours a day and at different zoom settings.

GroundProbe’s Vice President of Technology, Lachlan Campbell, says the Omni provides miners with a critical safety solution in open-cut mine environments.

“Due to catastrophic tailings dam failures resulting in devastating loss of life, the market was looking for a solution to ensure maximum safety for their facilities and surrounding communities,” he says.

“We developed a technology that covers the broadest of areas, detecting miniscule movement at the earliest possible time.”