Decipher assists with insurance process for tailings storage facilities

Decipher has created a tailings storage facility cloud solution to help mining companies improve governance, monitoring, reporting and disclosure of tailings data.

Following discussion with tier 1 and 2 mining companies, Decipher developed an integrated cloud solution to assist with the insurance process and information flow.

The solution boasts Decipher’s powerful monitoring capabilities built with Google Earth Engine at its core.

Customers can visually monitor their tailings stoarge facility with a variety of data such as internet of things (IoT) devices, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), radar, CCTV, drones, inspections and remote sensing into one central location.

Additionally, Decipher has advanced tools to effectively monitor, measure and detect deformation of land surfaces over time and automatically alert customers with InSAR displacement, further reducing risk.

“We have designed the solution so that customers can provide independent users such as insurers, investors, auditors and ITRB with secure access to a quick and effective knowledge management tool with selective data,” Decipher chief executive officer Anthony Walker said.

“This enables our customers to visually demonstrate their good governance, enabling their stakeholders to better understand the facility, its risks and as a result, potentially reduce insurance premiums and improve investor sentiment.”

Tailings storage facilities are integral to almost any mining activity but due to their toxic nature and the vast volume of waste materials, they pose several challenges to mining operations.

Leakages or ruptures can have considerable consequences such as loss of life, environmental damage, impact their social license to operate and potential financial hardship.

Prior to the 2019 failure of the Brumadinho, Brazil tailings dam, most companies had been required to disclose little information on their facilities and could transfer part of their tailings exposure into their general liability, property or environmental liability insurance programs.

Almost overnight, insurers soon discovered the full financial impact that a significant failure can have on their own business, resulting in a complete overhaul in underwriting guidelines.

As a result, mining operators are now required to be more transparent in the assessment of risks and have since experienced substantial premium increases while the insured value has dropped.

Underwriters have recently refused to cover tailings dams where the required information was not forthcoming. Additionally, insurers have indicated that compliance with standards may be a consideration in determining future insurability and premiums for tailings facilities.

Insurers can now afford to be more selective in where they put their capacity, according to Walker.

“In order for mining companies to achieve satisfactory insurance renewal outcomes they need to be able to demonstrate that their facility adheres to governance processes and certain standards, and, that they are fulfilling their obligation to do whatever is necessary to avoid an incident from occurring, work collaboratively with auditors and underwriters on third-party reports, and comply with industry public disclosure requests such as the investor mining and tailings safety initiative,” he said.

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