Land monitoring is required throughout the life of a mine. It is required to understand straight-forward aspects such as the impact area of a mine or the state of its infrastructure, as well as for complex aspects such as understanding the landform and its stability (e.g. erosion) or aspects relating to its post-mine rehabilitation. For post-mine rehabilitation, monitoring is required during the planning phase (monitoring reference sites and/or trial areas) and throughout the rehabilitation efforts to understand the trajectory of said rehabilitation (triggering management actions as required). Remote sensing techniques can be used in a wide range of aspects related to land monitoring.

Despite the importance of monitoring, there is still a lot to learn in this area. There are no industry standards that delineate the methods required to appropriately monitor each aspect. Mining companies (and the consultancies that aid them) end up having a wide variety of methods, even within the same company, which often prevents the comparison of results or to detect trends over time. Thus, partners in the Cooperative Research Centres Program (CRC) recognise the need develop standardised approaches that reliably incorporate the advantages of remote sensing.

To reach a level where standards of best practice can be developed, we first need to understand the perspectives of the different sectors within the mining industry, including current capabilities, drivers, and limitations. Thus, we have been working on understanding different aspects of monitoring and perspectives of a range of stakeholder perspectives, current monitoring methods, and needs. This work has required literature reviews and stakeholder engagement (surveys and interviews).

Case studies

As part of CRC-TiME, we developed a roadmap for adapting to technological change in remote sensing and monitoring capabilities. During this project, we conducted one-on-one interviews to understand stakeholder perspectives and priorities for aspects relating to the monitoring of the mine-site (e.g. infrastructure, tailings, water quality, etc.), biodiversity (e.g. vegetation and fauna), and topography (e.g. erosion, landform, and slope stability). We asked questions regarding the importance of monitoring each feature, details on how features are usually monitored, and whether they believed each monitoring method was adequate. This information was used to identify research goals and technological gaps, based on their needs.

As part of CRC-SmarSat, we developed a project to understand the use of earth observation technology (EO; remote sensing) to assess different environmental aspects of post-mine rehabilitation success. During this project we conducted a literature review of academia (journal articles), government, and mining companies, and a one-on-one interviews and surveys that were part of stakeholder engagement efforts.

For the literature review we assessed how prevalent was the use of remote sensing for monitoring rehabilitation trajectories across sectors.

For the stakeholder engagement portion, we asked questions relating to the use of EO tools to monitor different metrics that aim to assess the state of the ecosystem and its components (e.g. species composition, structural diversity, ecosystem function, etc), including current capabilities and future needs.

We used the information obtained to answer questions relating to current use of EO and metrics, whether sectors used different approaches, and the opportunities of EO to monitor rehabilitation trajectories and success.

Project members

Dr Lorna Hernandez Santin

Dr Lorna Hernandez-Santin

Research Fellow
Peter Erskine

Professor Peter Erskine

Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation
Group Leader
Ecosystem Assessment, Restoration and Resilience
Phill McKenna

Phill McKenna

Research Fellow