Earth observation satellites starting to bring benefits to mining sector – by ( – June 2, 2017)

JOHANNESBURG ( – At last month’s International Symposium on Remote Sensing of the Environment, held at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in Pretoria, one of the very many topics addressed was the use of remote sensing, particularly from earth observation (EO) satellites, to support the mining sector. This is an emerging endeavour but it is already showing much promise.

“Oil, gas and mineral deposits are the raw materials that drive the global economy,” points out the European Space Agency on its website. “As existing reserves dwindle, ensuring an adequate supply for the future requires the exploration of frontier regions for new supplies.

Hospitable and inaccessible environments such as desert and Arctic regions are increasingly the focus of survey activities, but exploration managers find it demanding to operate in such uncharted territory, often lacking detailed maps and basic geological information about the areas they are interested in.

EO makes possible the large-scale surveying of unexplored regions in a cost-effective manner, providing an additional layer of information to managers before they make the expensive decision to commit to on-site exploration.

Satellite data can map and identify large-scale geological structures related to hydrocarbon and mineral deposits that ground-based surveys may find more difficult to see: satellite radar interferometry can precisely identify surface faults or slight ground motion connected with hydrocarbon reservoirs.

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