Safety-conscious mining companies constantly monitor and evaluate their key assets. Even small ground movements can lead to catastrophic events. InSAR data aids engineers when assessing and monitoring the structural integrity of dams, embankments, mines, and tunnels. The data can be used to identify unusual or increasing rates of movement, and to assess the impact of remedial works – with the ultimate aim of preventing tragic events such as those observed at the Brumadinho disaster.

Use Cases


SatSense’s growing reputation as a global provider of high quality InSAR-derived ground movement insight has led to two of our first three contracts of 2021 being with international mining companies, barely a fortnight into the new year.

There are differences in requirements for different mines and operators. For example, one contract may be to provide a report detailing historical movements (e.g. 2015 – present day) of tailings storage facilities, waste dumps and any surface movement from underground mining. We are asked to provide analysis of movements over large areas – tens or even hundreds of square kilometers.

Tailings storage facilities are where waste and often toxic sludge are stored from the mine workings- these facilities are frequently referred to as a pond, with a damn and embankments surrounding it. If left to disrepair, the structural integrity can be compromised, leading to disastrous consequences. Our data can give engineers an indication of whether the structures are moving or not, and if there is any evidence of this movement increasing in velocity. Waste dumps can be monitored for much the same reasons and in the same ways. Surface mines can be monitored to see whether their sides are stable and to check for any evidence of movement which may indicate future failures.

We have also been contracted to report on any significant movements over a very specific area where observations on site have led to concern. Building up a historical picture of what has moved, together with ongoing monitoring allows smarter decisions to be made regarding remedial works where necessary. High-resolution radar data is used where the native ~4m x 14m resolution of freely available Sentinel data is deemed insufficient.

At SatSense we are always happy to explore new opportunities and to develop our offering to suit additional needs where necessary. If you have any queries regarding the use of InSAR, please get in touch with our team here.