Tailings and Mine Waste Conference

Satellite monitoring of a large tailings storage facility Schmidt, Benjamin; Malgesini, Matt; Turner, Jim; Reinson, Jeff


Minera Peñasquito, S.A. de C.V., operates a tailings storage facility (TSF) that currently covers 650 hectares (ha) and will have an ultimate dam length of approximately 11 kilometers (km) at their mine in the state of Zacatecas, Mexico. Historically, the size of the Peñasquito TSF has presented challenges with respect to monitoring and documenting construction and operational activities. Ground-based observation and topographic survey methods have been time-consuming, labor-intensive, and have been limited by site distances, shallow relief of tailings beaches, and restricted access to the tailings beach. Utilization of outside contractors to perform large-scale as-built surveying with unmanned aerial systems (drones) has been successful but also time-consuming and expensive, due to mobilization and site logistics. Through the innovative application of both publically and commercially available satellite data and data processing techniques developed by Photosat Ltd., Golder Associates Inc. (Golder) has been able to provide cost effective and reliable topography and aerial imagery to monitor and document the development of the Peñasquito TSF. This data has provided valuable insights into the construction progress and operational performance of the facility.

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