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Piezometer Installations in South Africa

In late 2021, the Geomech Africa team was assigned the task of installing piezometers at two mine sites in the northern provinces in South Africa. The aim of the project was to install 83 standpipe piezometers at new and existing locations. The client needed these piezometers installed, in order for the engineers to gather important water level data for analysing the tailings dams to monitor and predict possible changes of the phreatic surface under the 8 tailings facilities, over time.

In order to get permission to start operations on the site, the crew needed to go through the safety induction, rig inspections by the engineer on-site, and final approval of the safety files. Once the Team received the final go-ahead, they were able to establish the six rotary core drilling rigs to site to carry out wash boring and installation of standpipe piezometers at various locations for the client.

On this particular project, the team faced the challenge of getting the YWE D90 drill rig and the equipment to the top of the tailings dam. The larger area at the top of the dam was inaccessible for the 4 x 4 truck due to the wet nature of the soil. Because of the constant depositions taking place at the tailings dam, the soil was too loose for the truck to drive on. Considering that these deposits are wet, it would have been too risky to drive the truck on this surface as there was a high probability that the truck will get stuck. Should a situation like this occur, it would cause a complete shutdown of the site and it would require the operations staff to assist with getting the truck free, which could take days if not weeks to resume the project. This is a costly delay that the Geomech Africa staff wanted to avoid at all costs. As a solution, Spha Luthuli and Allen Netsianda and their teams were able to track the truck to the safest location nearest to the drill location where they then manually carried all the equipment to the work area. Luckily, the track-based YWE D90 drill rig was able to navigate through the wet areas at the top of the dam with ease and the team could conclude the work at those drill locations. In addition to the wet nature of the site, the increase in rainfall in the area exasperated the access issues on the site. However, with sufficient planning and correct equipment and resource allocation, the team was able to comfortably navigate the difficult conditions on-site without any unnecessary issues.

With safety being the highest priority, the team was able to conclude the work required for this project leaving the client satisfied with the outcome of the project and pleased with the quality of the work produced.