Hundreds of eyes and high-tech tools monitor for movement at Bingham Canyon Mine

Radar, extensometers, prism monitoring systems and other geotechnical equipment have been used in open pit mines since the early 1990s. These high-tech systems are used to monitor for slope movement within the walls of open pit mines. The real-time data is used by engineers in combination with visual inspections from more than 800 workers trained to identify and observe slope stability hazards. All of this information is used to forecast events such as the slide at the Bingham Canyon Mine to help keep all employees safe.

Movement of slopes in and around an open-pit mine is a normal part of the mining process. While pit wall failure, such as the slide that occurred on the northeast wall of the Bingham Canyon Mine on April 10, is infrequent, it is something we monitor for daily. We use the most advanced geotechnical technology available to continuously monitor and track slope movement to ensure the safety of our employees and operation.

Radar systems positioned around the mine scan the slopes and feed that data into software programs that measure and track long-term movement and trends. Extensometer instruments spanning open cracks take readings every ten minutes to detect movement as small as 0.01 inches. If any movement beyond predetermined thresholds is detected, the radar systems and extensometers activate warning alarms in the mine control room, and send warnings via email. Robotic total stations survey reflective prism targets throughout the pit every hour, and track very long term trends in slope movement. In addition to these monitoring tools, we also employ even simpler tools to measure ground movement, including manually surveyed prisms, and various crack measurement techniques.

Our geotechnical engineers use all these tools, and visual inspections to monitor slopes, track movement, and approximate when and where a major slope movement, such as a slide or pit wall movement, could occur.

Learn more about the geotechnical equipment used at the mine.