Mine Site Environmental Monitoring

Application Notes

Application Background                                                                                                                                                   Printer Friendly Version

Planning, operating and decommissioning mine sites require detailed long term environmental monitoring and evaluation.

mine site environmental monitoring

Generally a new mine will not be approved without a detailed environmental monitoring plan, which is would be approved by government authorities with an overall objective being that the environment is not changed in any way as a result of the mining operations. As mines may operate for several years, there would be a need to monitor the different stages.

Firstly there will be the need to monitor environmental parameters before any operations commence to determine a baseline for the local environment. Secondly, when the mine is operating, there will be environmental parameter limits which must not be exceeded during the operations, and these will need to be monitored, and any out of limits conditions recorded. There may be the need to set up alarms based on any out of limits conditions. Finally, when the mining operations have been completed, there is generally the need to rehabilitate the mine site, restore the area to its original condition and habitation, and then monitor for a period of years to make sure there has been no long term change to the environment as a result of the mining operations.

Parameters such as surface water, groundwater, evaporation, and weather are monitored, along with any dust or gas monitors depending on the type of mine.

Unidata Satellite Mine Site Environmental Monitoring System

Application Detail

Firstly, there will be a requirement to monitor the weather in the area using Tier 2 weather station equipment to record the ambient conditions, especially wind speed and direction, so there is good knowledge of the general wind conditions to make sure emissions from mine are not being carried by the wind to areas of population, such as a local town or city. There may be the need for one Tier 2 to be installed at the plant and at each perimeter fence of the facility to get a good reading for the local area.

Unidata supplies various weather station instruments, either a multifunction ultrasonic weather transmitter, which is very convenient to install, as well as separate discrete weather instruments.

For this application, the simpler ultrasonic weather transmitter would most likely be the best choice for the application.
As well as weather, there may be a need to monitor evaporation, especially important in uranium mines. All Unidata’s evaporation systems measure how much water evaporates from a US Class A evaporation pan by measuring the water level in an adjoining still well. The simplest model, known as the 6529-1 Evaporation Monitoring System, comprises of an evaporation pan with a bird and leaf cover and a manual measurement system.

Secondly there may also be a requirement to add additional instruments to measure the presence of noxious gases and dust. There are many manufacturers of gas monitoring equipment. One such manufacturer is Draeger and there are sensors to measure noxious gases such as CO, CO2, NO, H2S, SO2 as well as O2 and N. These instruments typically provide a 4-20mA analog output or a Modbus output which can be read by Neon Remote Terminal or Module routinely, perhaps every minute and then routinely send the data to the Neon Server every 15 minutes.

Unidata Cellular Mine Site Environmental Monitoring System

Monitoring of the water table (Groundwater) in the area will also be needed. Groundwater depth (often called bore hole monitoring is measured with a small diameter sensor deep in an observation bore hole. Water depth can be measured with a pressure sensor lowered down the bore hole and immersed in the water. This is called hydrostatic depth method. Alternatively a standard float-and-pulley sensor system with a small (50mm or 100mm) float and a pulley at the top of the bore hole can also be used to measure depth. These systems are typically installed in existing bores, perhaps with a diameter of 100 to 200 mm and a depth of 5 to 50 meters, with a bore head cap, often in a valve box/ enclosure or some other form of bore head arrangement. Water quality measurements for any local streams or mine site process outflows can be important, so a water quality instrument on any outflows would allow outflows to be checked for quality, to maintain environmental compliance.

Neon System screenshots

These instruments can also be connected with a Neon Remote Terminal to scan the instruments inputs, perhaps every few seconds and immediately alert a central Neon Server if there are any out of limits alarms as well sending routine data to the Neon Server, perhaps 4 hourly either with a cell phone, satellite or by connecting directly into the plant network using an Ethernet cable or WI FI system.

Finally, all of the environmental measurements would be recorded on the central Neon Server system, which is a web based, so the data can be accessed from anywhere on the internet. The data could also be exported, via several methods, perhaps each minute, or each hour, or each day to any central environmental monitoring compliance system as required.

Typical Configuration

Options for Application Specific Instruments / InputsUnidata Part NumberDescription
Vaisala Weather Transmitter WXT5366501V-HVaisala Weather Transmitter measure barometric pressure, humidity, precipitation,
temperature and wind speed and direction
Automatic Evaporation Recording System6529-3Automatic Evaporation Recording System
Drager Gas Detection InstrumentDrager MiniWarnCO2 / CO Gas Monitor
Four Electrode Water Conductivity Probe6536P-2-X4EL Water Conductivity Probe with 10m, 20m, 30m or 50m of cable
Water Electroconductivity Instrument6536EWater EC Instrument with Battery, 512K CMOS Memory
Hydrostatic Water Depth Probe6542D-XPT12 Pressure/Temperature Sensor SDI-12 3.5m, 10m or 20m
Hydrostatic Water Depth Probe - Titanium6542D-X-TTitanium PT12 Pressure/Temperature Sensor SDI-12 3.5m, 10m or 20m
Options for Neon Telemetry - NRT / RTU / Field UnitsUnidata Part NumberDescription
Cellular RTU 3G2013F-AB03Neon Metering Module 3G with Antenna and Li Battery
Cellular RTU 4G2013F-AB04Neon Metering Module 4G with Antenna and Li Battery
Cellular RTU 3G - Industrial2016F-AB03Neon Remote Terminal 3G with Antenna and Li Battery
Cellular RTU 4G - Industrial2016F-AB04Neon Remote Terminal 4G with Antenna and Li Battery
Low Earth Orbit Satellite Globalstar2015E-AB0Neon Remote Terminal - Satellite Globalstar Modem with Antenna and three Li Batteries
Ethernet2017E-0B0-1 or 3NRT Ethernet with single or triple Ethernet Ports
with three Li Batteries
Equatorial Orbit Satellite - Inmarsat2018E-AB0-1 or 3NRT Ethernet with single or triple Ethernet Ports
with three Li Batteries
LCD Display2500ENRT LCD Display
NRT Field Termination Strip2103F2015E,2016F,2017E, and 2018E NRT FTS
NRT Firmware Option2303A-8M8M Extended Memory Option
NRT Firmware Option2303A-8M-CAM8M Extended Memory & Serial Camera Option
NRT Firmware Option2303A-CAMSerial Camera Option
Options for Neon Application Software - Customer ServerUnidata Part NumberDescription
Neon Application Software2302ANeon Server Software Licence Incl 5 NAL
Neon Application Software2302A-10Additional 10 NRT Access Licences
Neon Application Software2302A-20Additional 20 NRT Access Licences
Neon Application Software2302A-50Additional 50 NRT Access Licences
Options for Neon Application Software - Unidata ServerUnidata Part NumberDescription
Neon Application Software2301ANeon Data Initial Subscription Setup Fee
Neon Hosting Service2301A-01Neon Data Service Fee for 1-50 NRTs
Neon Hosting Service2301A-02Neon Data Service Fee for 51-100 NRTs
Neon Hosting Service2301A-10Neon Data Service Fee Metering
Options for Conventional Dataloggers / Field UnitsUnidata Part NumberDescription
Standards Starlogger6004D-11Red Logger 512K with Alkaline Battery
Display Starlogger6004D-21Blue Logger 512K with LCD and Alkaline Battery
Prologger7001D-11Green Logger 1M with LCD and Alkaline Battery
Micrologger8010C-EURMicrologger 512K
Starlogger Field Termination Strip6103E6004D FTS
Prologger Field Termination Strip7100E7001D FTS
Starlog V4 Management Software6308A-AUEStarlog V4 Full Licence Key