Maintenance work on tailings dams

For a major project in South America, LCS was asked to develop a personnel safety system using winch technology to allow safe access to the tailings dams around an ore mining area

Tailing Dams – Forquilha III

Tailing or earth dams are used to store the processing residues that accumulate during the mining of ore. These are often mud-like residues that can also contain toxic substances such as mercury and arsenic.

In order to guarantee the stability of these earth dams and thus avoid possible dam failures, regular maintenance and monitoring activities must be carried out at these basins. For this purpose, it is also necessary to provide access for personnel to carry out various measurements and repair work at different points. As it can be very dangerous to walk in these basins due to the possibility of a dam bursting, LCS had to find a solution that would allow people working in the danger zone to move freely, but to be brought to safety immediately in the event of an emergency.

Based on these specifications and the available technologies and systems, LCS developed the innovative QXcrane system. This new, revolutionary system is a combination of a cable crane and “SpiderCams”, which are mostly used in sports stadiums to provide high-definition video or television footage without touching the ground.

The QXcrane system consists of four towers, four winches and an operator basket. The towers were positioned in a rectangle around the defined working area as well as outside the danger zone. The operator basket was connected to the four towers by steel ropes, which – as with the SpiderCam – allows navigation in all three dimensions of the space.

The workers entering the danger zone are secured to the basket via personal safety winches. This gives them a certain mobility and at the same time offers the possibility to be evacuated immediately in case of an emergency. The operator in the basket can observe and monitor the entire work area and pull up and rescue the workers in case of an emergency, such as a dam failure or earth movement. Workers on the ground can also activate this emergency function.

After a successful testing phase of the prototype and an operation and rescue simulation, the system is currently in use at the customer VALE S.A. and will be supported by our local subsidiary LCS Brazil in the future.

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2020 –


  • overall length: 1156 x 556 x 644 x 799 m
  • payload: 3 persons of 125 kg or material transport of 500 kg
  • loads: people, personnel safety, maintenance material
  • main components: 4 towers with a height of approx. 90 to 100 m, 4 winches, 1 operators