We look at modern TSF management practices centered at the digital twin of the site, seamlessly integrating monitoring and modeling.
Segment Director for Mining Operations – Seequent
<v Janina>Hello and welcome everyone.</v>
Thank you very much for joining us today
at our Seequent presentation.
My name is Janina Elliott.
I am Seequent’s Global Central Technical Lead,
and I’m joined today by Jennifer Biddlecombe,
our Senior Account Executive for North America.
And the two of us are part
of Seequent’s tailing solution team,
and have the immense pleasure to moderate today’s talk
on The Role of Dynamically Updated Digital Twin
in a Modern Tailing Storage Facility.
At the end of the talk, we will make sure to address several
of your burning questions regarding the resolution.
But in case there isn’t enough time,
rest assured that we will provide you with an answer
just after the webinar via a personalized email.
So with no further ado, I’d like to introduce our colleague,
team leader and speaker for the day, Pieter Neethling.
Now, Pieter, as the Segment Director for Mining Operations,
Pieter is strongly focused
on making Seequent’s Geoscience Portfolio more relevant
to production geologists and environmental experts.
And through his focus growth, and this focus growth,
he aspires to solve essential operational challenges
centered on safety and productivity workflow improvements.
Now, Pieter has more than 30 years of experience
in the mining industry with varying roles in operation,
including lead positions in consulting
and mining technical services
at multiple top tier organizations.
But a special interest and passion of Pieter’s
has always been the safe development and maintenance
of tailing storage facilities.
And this is the focus for his talk today.
Okay, over to you Pieter, here we go.
<v Pieter>Thank you for the introduction Janina.</v>
Today I’m going to talk to you about the value
of a dynamically updating digital twin,
and the role it might play in mitigating potential failures
of tailings storage facilities.
Before I progress with the presentation,
I would like to make a statement
of confidentiality and disclaimer.
Please note that the presentation
is for informational purposes only,
and it’s not a commitment
to deliver software features or functionality.
And now for some context for why digital twin
becomes so important.
The mining sector is increasingly exposed to environmental,
social and governance compliance.
And the need to comply
with the associated regulatory frameworks
has necessitated a shift in the way the industry
manages risk and adheres to responsible mining practices.
Investors also want to ensure that their money is used
in a sustainable and responsible fashion,
as evidenced by the signatories
to the Principles for Responsible Investment.
Greater transparency entailings management disclosure,
and working with industry
and community regulatory and financial stakeholders
to promote the application of consistent disclosure
that informs better tailings than stewardship,
has become a key operational objective.
These social economic and political risks,
along with the need to digitally transform the industry,
means everyone is talking about tailings.
Recent events have reminded us
that more work needs to be done
to increase dam resilience and due diligence.
To truly be able to learn from a failure event
and fulfill the ultimate goal of the global standard,
it is essential that there is complete transparency
regarding the chain of events.
All data analysis and decision-making processes
need to be clearly understood.
However, to achieve this objective is easier said than done,
with people, processes and technology challenges
core to mitigating the risks
and embedding a cohesive safe tailings management solution.
Let’s take a look at some of the challenges.
Complexity comes in many forms and here are a few examples.
Monitoring and understanding of data and systems
for some of the largest man-made structures on earth,
and that these are evolving structures
makes this inherently challenging.
The changing factor of safety, at a TSF as it evolves
is a major concern.
And scenario testing, to help predict potential failure,
as a TSF evolves with time, is a significant pain point.
The monitor to model to design workflows are by and large,
still unnecessarily complex.
This consumes resources and introduces risk.
And finally, there are a host
of multi-stakeholder collaborations to manage.
Technical teams that we have engaged,
believe it’s not just data and file incompatibility
that is an issue.
But also the lack of multidisciplinary interaction
and comprehension that is a cause for miscommunication.
Our conversations with senior management
find a common thread
where reporting on all of their storage facilities
that are at varying ages, conditions and locations,
particularly where there is little standardization
in how the structure is being monitored is a major issue.
They agree that their teams waste a lot of time struggling
to get the data into a useful and consistent format.
Managers are therefore not fully confident
that they are delivering a comprehensive picture
of all of the assets and the problems are not being missed.
So how is Seequent helping tackle these challenges?
The key to any solution is that it provides the means
to work effectively as a team and ensure data transparency.
These are the underlying principles that allow
for a robust review and decision making process.
But how is this accomplished?
Firstly, all stakeholders in the project,
were the modelers from different geoscientific groups,
project managers, or third parties such as consultants
and JV partners need to have access to the latest data
in as near real time as possible.
Secondly, everyone needs to work collaboratively
from a single source of truth to create up-to-date models
that facilitate the development of a digital twin.
A robust monitor to model to design workflow
bridges the gap between typically disconnected monitoring
and technical analysis workflows.
The sequence TSF solution, a continuous modeling paradigm
is established that solves the data management
and multi-stakeholder conundrum,
and centers activities on as-built performance
and failure prevention with good communication,
a key success factor.
Core to our solution is Seequent Central,
a cloud hosted model and data management system,
with web based visualization capability
that facilitates collaboration.
Seequent’s modeling suite comprises Leapfrog,
Oasis montaj and Geostudio,
all of which addresses the modeling and analytical needs
of geologists, geophysicists and geotechnical engineers.
Seequent works to provide the best of breed solution
by working with partners and their products.
For example Esri.
Modflow and Feflow for flow modeling
are examples of industry standard products
Seequent’s TSF solution works with.
In combination, the outputs define a live digital twin
and completes the monitoring to modeling
and design workflow.
Let’s take a look at the role of our expert applications
in a little more detail.
Geophysical methods from the ground, air and satellite
provide efficient remote sensing of TSFs.
Geophysical methods are a great way to see non-intrusively
into the subsurface and provide information
on say water content.
These methods can easily be repeated at regular intervals
over the same area,
giving a great reference point for monitoring changes.
Permanently in place systems are also on the market.
These dense data collection techniques are superb
for filling in between physical measurements.
Like piezometers, basically guiding the construction
of the 3D digital twin and making it more accurate.
The geological model forms the foundation
of the digital twin, where continuous assessment
of the altered rock, tailings depositions,
along with the structural discontinuities
can impact the physical structure.
The geological model with the hydrogeological
and geotechnical analysis are inseparable
from a robust workflow, and to fully understand changes
in the foundation characteristics of the structure.
More specifically, it is typical
that geotechnical model domains
and their associated soil and rock designed parameters
are attributed to geological model domains.
This generally means a geotechnical model
is only as good as its geological model,
with the geological model playing a significant role
in informing geotechnical design parameters.
In summary, an accurate representation
of the geological conditions
is fundamental to developing optimized tailings solutions,
particularly at the design stage.
This adds significant value and cost savings,
both at construction and during ongoing maintenance
over the lifetime of the tailings facility.
What is key to the stability of tailings?
Water management is one of the biggest challenges
for managing the tailings facility,
especially those using wet transport and deposition.
The hydrogeological extension provides an efficient
and robust workflow for transferring the model
in the digital twin to Modflow and Feflow,
including importing results back into the digital twin.
This saves time and effort
as well as facilitates a regular update
of the forward-looking analysis for TSF behavior.
Geotechnical analysis is the key
to understanding factors of safety and reliability.
Geotechnical analysis is an integral part
of modern TSF design and management.
The analysis is used not only to provide insights
on deformation, consolidation
and stability at the design stage,
but to adapt the design to actual conditions
during construction based on the interpretation
of monitoring data.
As such, the key benefit of geotechnical analysis
within the digital twin lies in the ability
to make informed decisions about the immediate
and forward looking performance of the facility.
A dynamically updated digital twin of the physical system
ensures knowledge transfer
throughout the history of the site,
meaning that decisions are intentional rather than reactive.
The importance of a geotechnical digital twin
was recently highlighted at Seequent Lyceum
by a colleague of mine.
He presented the findings
of a retrospective numerical simulation
of the construction history
of the Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facility.
The simulation, as seen in this video,
incorporated a thin layer of clay
that exhibited strength loss during deformation.
The simulation revealed a repeating pattern
at each stage of construction,
the excess pore water pressure generation, dissipation
and equilibration of the flow system.
More importantly, each stage of construction
was associated with a change in strength
along the developing rupture zone.
The strength varied between peak and residual
right up to the point of failure.
All it took was one additional bump
at that stage of construction
to cause full strength loss in the clay,
resulting in a catastrophic failure of the entire facility.
A key realization was that deformations of the TSF
were negligible up to the point of collapse.
As such, monitoring would not have been diagnostic
of the impending failure,
which highlights the need for a geotechnical analysis
as an integral component of the digital twin.
We can easily imagine how a dynamically updated digital twin
with version control, multiple realizations of the geology
and a single source of truth, whatever for the engineers
to explore different physical phenomena
as the facility evolved.
Moreover, the digital twin could have been passed down
from the outgoing to incoming engineers of record,
allowing the knowledge transfer to be unbroken.
So in summary, when we assess what is required
to manage tailing storage facilities safely,
and the requirements of the global tailing standard,
teams have to think about holistic design.
The digital twin becomes the basis for design
used at all phases of the project life cycle.
Development of the digital twin forces the engineers
to understand the physical system
and make informed decisions
about the facility’s performance as it evolves.
A comprehensive digital twin
that consistently incorporates changing data
and evaluates all spatial, numeric
and intellectual information in a 3D plus temporal context
helps to identify problems early.
It can also help design targeted monitoring programs.
Interpreting monitoring data is a significant challenge
because it goes beyond plotting a time series
and trigger thresholds.
Again, that is only valuable if it’s interpreted
in the context of the digital twin.
A continuously updated digital twin
enables an adaptable design that allows material changes
in the design to be identified in the moment.
Informed field decisions can be made
to either alter the design
or accept the current construction trajectory
that meets the factors of safety.
We truly believe a paradigm shift is required
whereby tailings governance needs to shift
from a dominantly reactive long-term modeling approach
to a more strongly agile,
even predictive short-term modeling method.
To help prevent failure isn’t about one piece of data
or a single technology.
But it’s how you bring it all together that counts.
Thank you for your time and attention.
But just before I hand you back to Janina,
please note that we have a host of additional information
on tailings that you can source
from our seequent.com website.
Over to you Janina.
<v Janina>Thank you very much, Pieter</v>
and yeah that is wonderful.
So I would like to address of course the audience
in the last couple of minutes.
And if you have any questions regarding Pieter’s talk
please feel free to write them here in the question window.
And in previous conversation with a few of the attendees,
there were a few questions that were asked
and we want to make sure that we address these as well.
So I’m going to ask my colleague Jenny if she’s available
to help me address those questions.
<v Jennifer>Hi everybody.</v>
We’ve just got a couple of questions here Janina.
What was meant by more agile
rather than reactive workflow
is one of the questions that just came up.
<v Janina>Oh yeah okay.</v>
Yeah so the way that tailings monitoring and governance
is currently conducted is somewhat lengthy
and not always linear process.
So the flow of observational and measure data
is often inhibited by lack of interconnectivity
but also between those multidisciplinary teams.
The consultants, the reviewers, the geotechnicians,
the third parties,
everyone involved is somewhat disconnected from each other.
And so that very nature of this aggregated process means
that we’ll never really sees the full real-time picture
or the complete digital twinness if you will.
So to understand all of those influencing factors at play,
and because of that,
one can only really react when or if a red flag goes up.
So only when everyone works from a one source of truth
and has insight into each other’s expertise
and forward thinking 3D models and design work,
one can partake in a more agile and even predictive workflow
that mitigates the risks from the start
and also identified issues before they truly turn
into real problems.
That’s the idea.
We’ve just got one other question here as well.
How does the solution allow companies
that adhere more closely to those new global standards
that have recently been put together?
<v Janina>Yeah, they’re the new global standard of</v>
Yeah then you have a close look at this document
and believe me, we have.
The headlines and that is really six chapters
and they all ask to for the operator and everyone involved
in the tailings facility to meaningfully engage people.
To build an interdisciplinary knowledge base
and to develop robust designs that integrate
that knowledge base.
And together develop an organizational culture
that promotes learning, communication
and really early problem recognition.
That’s the key.
And all of these aspects are truly fulfilled
when an uninhibited and real time communication
in 3D occurs.
So when there’s interactive collaboration
that can take place between everyone involved,
and that’s exactly what our solutions are aiming to do.
Our individual products integrated with each other
and underpinned through Central.
It really brings people and data together
and promotes that intellectual exchange
between subject matter experts, stakeholders
and of course also the public to build a really clear
and perpetual transparent view of everything
that governs that side.
And so in that sense,
we really quite closely adhere to the global standard.
<v Jennifer>Thanks Janina, I think that was,</v>
that answered that really well.
I think that was all the questions.
So if anyone else who, oh, sorry,
let me just check there’s something else.
Does Leapfrog allow real-time data streaming into the model,
to say monitoring and visualize the phreatic surface?
<v Janina>Yeah, it depends on what kind of,</v>
very good question.
It depends on which format it comes in.
But ultimately in Central we have built a dynamic link
where you can bring in point information for example,
and link it dynamically and directly to Leapfrog.
So in Leapfrog you would be able to build a phreatic surface
or any kind of 3D surface
based on that xyz point information.
And as soon as that information in its raw form
is refreshed in Central,
in the Central data room and its repository,
then your Leapfrog project will automatically
be notified about it.
So in that sense you can just right click, refresh
and then your phreatic surface will rebuild
based on the new information.
And depending on how you set up your project,
you have an opportunity then to actively compare
what that surface looks like
relative to the previous interpretation, the previous model
and what those changes mean going down the roads
in terms of your hydrogeological assessment
of the site, yeah.
And if there is any questions about workflow
or if anyone would like to get in touch with us
about setting up those different workflows
to dynamically link that data then we’d love to talk to you
and perhaps have a look at what you’re working with
at the moment.
<v Janina>Thank you very much for joining</v>
and thanks Jenny, thanks Pieter for the great talk
and we hope to hear from you soon.
Have a great remaining conference.