Mining is at the forefront of the global economy and often an indicator of its health. Population growth and urbanisation in emerging markets, coupled with current requirements in the developed world.
International Council on Mining & Metals, which has also found that the demand for minerals and metals is directly proportional to the material standard of living.
The effects on mental demands are dramatic as populous countries such as China and India undergo rapid development and urbanisation phases.
However, with the ongoing economic downturn and uncertainty in the markets, the mining sector, like all others, is feeling the pinch — diminishing investments and plunging stock prices are prompting across-the-board cost cuttings, thereby exposing them to a range of competing trends and rapidly changing global business environment.
The mining industry is primarily dependant on data. “Information and spatial reference are essential through all phases of mineral production, from exploration through construction, operation and mine site closure,” emphasises Prof Jozef Dubinski, Chairman, World Mining Congress.
In the background of increasing demand and diminishing deposits, discovering new sources ahead of the competition is the key for miners.
In addition to exploration, remote sensing data can also help monitor the progress of mining and waste depositing on dumps by photogrammetric calculation of excavated volumes,
Remote sensing data covers large areas in discrete moments, offering repetitiveness and comparativeness, and they are irreplaceable and the cheapest data for regular control and change detection.
Further, exploration requires analysis of different types of data such as satellite imagery, digital photo mosaics, geophysics, surface geology studies, subsurface and cross-section interpretations and images, and existing borehole locations, which can be analysed by a GIS.
They may not know it by the term ‘geospatial’, but all mining giants are either lining up significant investments for or have already embraced well-proven measurement technologies for precise and reliable geospatial positioning.
Coal India uses geospatial technology in the pre-mining phase, surveying, exploration and compiling baseline data of environmental situation and land-use patterns; as also a real-time trip counting system at opencast mines, truck movement monitoring etc.
Geoinformation and technology come in handy in analysis and evaluation of the surface effects of mining activity, safety as well as in environmental impact assessment. Following the infamous incident in 2010 when 33 miners remained trapped for over two months in Chile’s San Jose mine, the governments of Chile and Argentina made the use of GPS equipment mandatory in all their mines.
The need for geospatial technology is increasing as the value of mined material continues to increase and regulatory agencies continue to impose safety regulations,”
Developments in the IT area use of GIS in the Cloud makes access to geospatial information more universal, easier and intuitive. Its application can bring quick tangible benefits, not only financial but also improved decision making, information access and service quality