Knowledge gaps and opportunities for earth observation tools in mine rehabilitation at the property scale
The mining industry in Australia is required to rehabilitate land that has been disturbed over the life of the mine. However, the industry and government regulators lack Earth Observation (EO) tools to effectively characterise the progressive rehabilitation of these disturbance footprints with confidence at the project scale. This project aimed to engage the mining industry, land management agencies and regulatory bodies to develop a clear understanding of EO tools needed to improve industry rehabilitation management, government monitoring, and public confidence in mine rehabilitation and restoration at the property scale.
This project was conducted in collaboration with the SmartSatCRC (SSCRC) and the University of Queensland.
Three main limitations that contribute as barriers to effective monitoring of post-mine areas have been identified including access to fit for purpose EO tool, limitedindustry uptake of current tools and technologieslike EO, and scale (spatial and temporal). In addition, incorporating stochastic (unpredictable) events into monitoring and planning of mine rehabilitation is becoming increasingly relevant, as effects from climate change raise the frequency and severity of these events.
The objectives of this study were to investigate the current EO capabilities, knowledge gaps, and future EO opportunities to characterise land use change and impacts from stochastic events on rehabilitation pathways to restored ecosystems at the property scale through:
- A needs analysis based on industry and government engagement with target personnel.
- A literature review on EO for rehabilitation planning and monitoring and user need to inform tool development.
- The development of a roadmap that highlights current capabilities and recommendations for future research.
As a scoping study, the long-term objective of this research was to inform methodology development and software tools to provide scalable ecosystem assessments for the mining industry, which manages large areas of land in Australia. Knowledge gaps and capabilities of EO tools for ecosystem monitoring identified during this project are likely to have applications beyond the scope of this project, with the potential to identify issues faced by other industries (e.g., defence and forestry) and by land managers and government sectors. By identifying current opportunities and limitations of EO tools to assess rehabilitation success and resilience at the property scale, this project will readily inform a phase 2 project, which will build the identified tools and algorithms to effectively characterise the progress and success of rehabilitation efforts with greater regard for increased severity and frequency of natural events
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