Dam(n) good monitoring for managing mines

15 June 2023


A revolutionary automatic dam monitoring solution provided by HydroTerra in partnership with Swarm Space is being used by several mining dam operators and owners throughout Queensland and NSW resulting in significant savings and reduced safety hazards.

The new solution, using Swarm’s nanosatellite IoT platform and HydroTerra’s technology and integration expertise, helps identify and manage safety, regulatory and water use issues associated with dams and storages in the mining sector.

Manual monitoring is costly, prone to safety hazards and provides limited data. These limitations lead to a poor understanding of the dynamics of dam water management, resulting in significant water loss, dam failures and regulatory issues.

The Floating Level/Water Quality (WQ) sensor is putting an end to manual monitoring of dam water conditions. The technology can automatically monitor water levels, volumes, water balance, and water quality.

The Floating Level/WQ Sensor pinpoints issues long before they become problematic and removes the need for workers to drive long distances across mines. The sensors communicate with Swarm’s constellation of nanosatellites to provide regular, accurate updates on water conditions from day one. Conservative estimates suggest that the technology can save mining operators $AU70,000 per dam site annually. For a mining site that has 15 sensors, this equates to $AU1 million in annual savings by removing the need for manual site visits!

For decades, dams have been manually monitored, with the process causing inaccuracies in reporting data due to highly variable dam levels caused by changing inflows, evaporation, infiltration, and water use. Additionally, not all the water depth could be monitored as the measurements are generally taken near the shore. The misreporting of such data can contribute to the failure of dams or an unlawful discharge and damage to the environment.

Now, satellite IoT connectivity is creating the consistency that’s long been missing. The Solar Floating Level Sensor is easy to install, able to withstand harsh weather conditions, and can last for years when well maintained.

The technology offering has met our mining customer requirements around price, data volume, and latency. Swarm provides the data volumes needed to be able to transmit all this information. Our customers sometimes need to transmit hourly, and require frequent enough satellite passes to keep that data timely and relevant. Swarm’s current average latencies of 30 minutes meets these needs, and Swarm’s satellite pass-checker tool allows customers to see exactly when one of Swarm’s 120 satellites will pass overhead.

Swarm Space is the world leader in secure, low-cost satellite connectivity for IoT. More information can be found on our website.

Satellite Solar Floating Level Sensor