Slurry pipelines can be used to move ore or waste material across large distances. The nature of slurry means that conventional mass-flow and statistical based leak detection systems are poorly suited to leak detection.

External Leak Detection Systems (LDS) based on Distributed Fiber Optic Sensing (DFOS) offer the potential to significantly reduce the overall amount of spilled product before a leak is detected and localized. Such a system has been installed on a slurry pipeline for the past 3 years and since installation there have been three unique leak events identified by the operator using the DFOS system. Two of these events are estimated to have involved leak flow rates of less than 50 LPM. Notably, in one of the incidents the operator indicated that there was no surface expression of the leak when they went to inspect the location. The incidents disclosed in this paper are done so anonymously.

Each of the leak events shared a common characteristic: the recurrent generation of localized NPW signals. This characteristic is suggested to result from the blocking and unblocking of the leak orifice by the solid material.

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