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Mapping the Mines: The Quest continues

The use of latest mapping technology like Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing is growing in Indian Mines. The Remote Sensing technology has been extensively used in mapping the regions affected by underground fires in Jharia and its surrounding areas. This technology integrated with GIS, has become an effective tool for developing and implementing a rehabilitation plan for the region.

Mining industry professionals like to say "if it can't be grown, it's got to be minded." In the GIS industry, it is said "if it can be mined, it's going to required geography." Geography provides the framework to acquire develop, and interpret the complex spatial and tabular datasets used for mining and the earth sciences. Mapping, spatial concepts, and time/space operations technology is absolutely essential to effective mining.

GIS technologies create efficiency and productivity opportunities in all aspects of mineral exploration and mining. GIS enables a mineral exploration geologist and mine operator to mine intelligently, efficiently, competitively, safely, and environmentally.

GIS for Mining Management
Almost mining information has some sort of spatial component that can be represented in map form, including financial and asset information. Management and mineral economists are using GIS in their evaluation of corporate and competitor assets. All of the tabular data used to assess a mining prospect or existing operation can be spatially referenced. GIS software allows direct access to data in the most common spreadsheets and databases.

Reserve estimates, annual planned production, or cost per ton statistics can be linked to prospect or mine locations and used to control the map symbols. Regional maps can place the mines or prospects in a regional geologic or political setting. Detailed maps of exploration prospects or active mines can be accessed by a simple point and click on the regional map.

GIS for Mining Exploration
Exploration geologists and geophysicists are presented with very diverse types of data. From the state-of-the-art hyperspectral data to simple ASCII text files, explorationists are asked to bring it all together.

In the past, this required expensive UNIX workstation and complex programs or stacks of Mylar overlays and a light table. Today, advances in PC hardware and software technology have made this tasks more manageable.

Geologists can now capture field data electronically using pen computers and GPS receivers. Software aids in collecting both spatial data and tabular attributes. Existing regional maps, aerial photography, satellite imagery, or CAD drawings can be used as a backdrop to guide field mapping.

All of these sources of data can be integrated, manipulated, and analyzed using GIS. Using GIS, raster data such as satellite imagery, aerial photography, gravity and magnetic data, or scanned maps can be overlaid with vector data such as faults, strike and dip measurements, geochemical samples, core hole locations, or lease and claim boundaries.

GIS for Mining Operations
Pipelines, electric lines, roads, ramps, and other mining facilities change frequently. Engineers and operations staff use GIS for facility planning applications.

Keeping track of existing infrastructure and integrating with the mine plan and block models can be achieved with GIS. GIS can be used to integrate recent survey data with block models or mine design data from other mining software packages such as TECHBASE. Vulcan, Mines Sight, or SURPACE 2000.

GIS for Environmental Management
Environmentalists involved in reclamation use GIS to analyze and map soils, vegetation, and surface hydrology. As an example, results of surface geochemistry can be used to calculate required topsoil. Reviewing the location of new operations relative to reclamation areas may reveal an opportunity to move topsoil directly to the reclamation site, therefore eliminating costly stockpiling.

GPS in Mining
GPS entered the Mining Industry as a fast, and cost-effective instrument for survey. A shifting landscape is the very nature of mining operations; as shovels and dozers remove coal and ore, they reshape the mine's surface. Real-time GPS allows mining operations to keep on top of these constant changes and provide updated operating instructions to heavy equipment operators. In addition, GPS systems provide a fast and accurate solution for replacing and maintaining control points and calculating the volume of material moved.

Moving mining assets, including dozers, shovels, graders and draglines, are managed and guided using advanced GPS technology. Advanced GPS systems also track and monitor the status and location of dump trucks, providing reports to their heading and velocity as well as the size of the truck's load. Live GPS is becoming commonplace for monitoring and dispatching haul trucks or drills and for providing grade control on shovels. These data can also be tied to a GIS to monitor the location of all equipment, in real time.