Planning for the future

Online Editor

Avoid breaching planning conditions using cloud-based environmental monitoring, says Jaymee-lee Tolliday.

Above-ground mining operations have a significant impact on the environment, necessitating the implementation of strict environmental oversight measures. These measures, typically embedded in planning applications or operational licenses, aim to address concerns such as noise, dust, vibration and gases.

To effectively manage these issues, site-specific management plans are devised, outlining strategies for maintaining compliance and reporting on designated limits.

Enhancing monitoring

Efficient environmental monitoring plays a crucial role in preventing breaches of established thresholds and ensuring the adherence to site management plans. Cloud-based environmental monitoring systems have emerged as a highly effective solution for continuous compliance. By utilising a variety of sensors, these systems automatically transmit real-time environmental data to a cloud-based monitoring platform, enabling multiple stakeholders to access and act on the information promptly.

Among the innovative, cloud-based solutions available, Cirrus Research’s Quantum Outdoor environmental monitoring solution is a stand-out. The integrated system brings together a range of environmental sensors, including for noise, dust/particulates, gases, weather and ground-borne vibration, into a single platform. The instrument offers a holistic approach to environmental monitoring and compliance.

Successful implementation

A mining site in Cleveland, England recently had its planning permission extended for another 25 years with conditions relating to noise and vibration. The implementation of the Quantum system has enabled the constant monitoring of noise levels both on the site boundary and at selected external locations.

The mine operator also implemented a comprehensive dust (PM10) monitoring system at the same time, within the same platform. This ensures that the site can understand its impact on the
local environment 24 hours a day. It also ensures that the operator has long-term effective data to show compliance with its environmental management plan.

The Quantum system offers several features designed to support effective environmental monitoring and response. It allows the connection of multiple monitoring stations, presenting the data through various live views, including graphs and maps. Furthermore, the system permits the setting of event triggers for parameters such as noise and dust levels. Instant alerts can be sent via text, email or app notifications, facilitating swift action in response to any issues that arise. Notably, the system even incorporates audio recording for in-depth analysis of specific noise breaches, aiding in identifying their exact causes.

Centralised data management and integration

One of the system’s key advantages is the consolidation of all environmental data within a managed platform, accessible through a standard web interface. Furthermore, mining sites can establish restricted access models, enabling the general public to view the data. Additionally, the Quantum system can seamlessly integrate with on-site management systems through an API, enabling operational data to be combined with environmental data, providing a comprehensive overview.

Maintaining strict oversight of above-ground mining operations is essential for mitigating environmental impacts. The advent of cloud-based environmental monitoring systems such as the Quantum Outdoor, offers a transformative approach to environmental monitoring. Through continuous innovation and the integration of advanced technologies, the mining industry can further strengthen its commitment to environmental responsibility in the pursuit of a greener future.

Jaymee-lee Tolliday is with Cirrus Research.