At a seminar of the South African Institute for Engineering and Environmental Geologists, Hennie Booyens, SRK Consulting’s senior engineering geologist, said 3D models are powerful and dynamic data management tools that should be used early and often in tailings storage facility (TSF) design and management. The models can provide critical information to help a geologist characterize and communicate the ground profile of a TSF throughout its entire life cycle.

The models offer comprehensive and detailed representations of the subsurface for a more thorough understanding of the geological features, structural complexities, and soil properties of a given site, he said. With enhanced visualization capabilities, the models help the geologists and engineers communicate with stakeholders in TSF management and decision-making processes.

“I would recommend working on a 3D model prior to the construction of the TSF,” Booyens said. “This helps design engineers to understand not only the underlying ground conditions, but also informs them on the larger-scale geomorphological setting of the site.”