Application of Slope Stability Radar for improved safety and productivity in the global mining industry

Rock Engineering 2009 - Rock Engineering in Difficult Conditions
Neal Harries, Haydn Roberts,
Abstract The management of risks associated with slope instability is an essential process in the safe and economic operation of open cut mines. In five years, over eighty Slope Stability Radar (SSR) systems have been installed at major mines in Australia, Indonesia, United States, Canada, Chile, Peru, Africa, India and Europe to better manage those risks. The SSR technology is now considered best-practice by the global mining industry for managing unstable and production-critical slopes.

The SSR uses radar to remotely scan a rock slope and continuously measure any movement of the face. The technology can detect and alert users of wall movements with sub-millimetre precision. Radar waves adequately penetrate through rain, dust and smoke to give reliable and real-time measurements, 24 hours a day. To date, SSR systems have detected and recorded warning movements in over 200 rock falls and slope failures, ranging from small wedge failures of just a few tonnes to dump failures of up to thirty million tonnes.

SSR systems have allowed large productivity gains in a large number of operations by reducing production downtime due to geotechnical issues to a minimum. It allows mines to continuously monitor the stability of critical slopes, and to take action to safeguard people and equipment prior to the failure of a slope. Further, it gives confidence for mining to occur in areas that might otherwise be quarantined due to uncertainty over the extent of instability. It has also contributed significantly to safety and mine design by providing accurate, reliable deformation data that may be later reviewed to further develop our understanding and analysis of failure mechanisms in open pit mines; eventually leading to improved slope design.

SSR technology is being vertically integrated into mining operations and horizontally integrated across corporate offices and external consultants. This paper will present recent case studies of SSR applications and discuss the integration into global mining operations.
Keywords: Slope, Stability, Monitoring, Productivity, Radar, Safety, Planning
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