Open Cut

Autonomous Water Pressure Sensors for Spoil Dumps and Dams

Open Cut » Geology

Published: September 23Project Number: C29052

Get ReportAuthor: Byron Wicks | Mining3

The geotechnical integrity and stability of a mine spoil dump or tailings dam can be weakened by factors including abnormal pore pressures and movement induced by ground water permeating the embankment or the foundation of these structures. These factors greatly affect the design, layout, safety, and potential for slope failure to affect surrounding areas.

The onset of unwanted ground water dependent responses is difficult to monitor pervasively and autonomously using the techniques of ground monitoring and instrumentation currently available. Mining3 designed and validated components of a prototype system to communicate the health of the earth structure from sensor data.

Highlights of the project include:

  • Autonomous Sensor System has achieved the required performance as specified in the project proposal including:
  • communications, transmission range of signal;
  • electrical, power consumption and battery life;
  • mechanical design, robustness, interior structure, and housing;
  • validation and verification of the system in the Mining3 test environment;
  • Identification and discussions with a commercialisation partner to productise, manufacture, and market the system;
  • Filing of a provincial patent application with IP Australia, title: Subterranean communications system and method; application number: 2023900984;
  • Completion of four master's theses during the project which are attached as an appendix.
  • “Developing a Long-range, Sub-surface Communications System using the Magnetic Field of a Permanent Magnet,” The University of Queensland, 2021, Reid Zemek,
  • “Autonomous Sensors Project,” The University of Queensland, 2021, Christopher Pham - “Autonomous Sensing of Slope Stability for Spoil and Tailings Structure,” The University of Queensland, 2022, Jarrod Bennett,
  • “3D Single-Node Localisation System for Magnetic Field-based Autonomous Sensors and its Comparison to Multi-Node Algorithms,” The University of Queensland, 2022, Shreya Singh;
  • Field trials performed both as part of Cave Mining 2040 international consortium, and validation of student projects.


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