Increasing use of technology to monitor tailings dams


Technology has a vital role in strengthening the monitoring of our tailings facilities. A particular focus is the increasing use of drones to monitor environmental and critical controls, and to document inspections through photographs and video.

At Impala Rustenburg, for example, where there are two tailings dams (one active with 328 million m3 impoundments) we conduct monitoring (CCTV) inspections and volumetric surveys via drone. All these initiatives are conducted through a third party.

Advantages of using drone survey/inspections instead of the previously deployed visual helicopter flights, include:

  • Lower operating costs
  • Allows for the capture of higher resolution images
  • Lower labour intensity
  • Measurements can be taken in areas where access was previously limited
  • Faster volume calculation
  • Thermal imaging is possible – such as of slurry pipelines to determine high-wear areas requiring replacement.

The drone survey/inspection flights can be carried out at any given point if the need arises, thus giving more of a “live” monitoring method of TSF deposition.