Jan 29, 2021

Software development focuses on remote rehab

Software development focuses on remote rehab The abandoned Mary Kathleen uranium mine east of Mount Isa where rehabilitation is under scrutiny

An environmental management software company is planning to make mine site and other land rehabilitation easier.

University of Queensland based envirometrics.io is developing a process to glean a lot more data from existing resources including GIS, said PhD candidate and co-founder Roger Tang.

“Because the satellite imagery has been improving quite quickly, it’s made it a lot easier to actually analyse that imagery,” Mr Tang said. “You can now extract a lot more information.”

PhD candidate at University of Queensland Roger Tang

“Where it was not possible in the past, you’d either use drones or be on ground, it has now become a lot more accessible.” 

“Many mines are in remote locations that are not easily accessible, or you may need information a lot faster, so we’re trying to fill that gap and help mining companies and also government.”

Environmental degradation on legacy mine sites fits the capabilities of the system they were developing said Mr Tang.

“They (the regulators) require information because there are plenty of mines out there, historic mines, or legacy mines, that also need to be addressed,” he said.

“… you have Mary Kathleen (near Mount Isa in north west Queensland), which has technically been rehabilitated by the standards of that time. 

What remains of the open cut pit at Mary Kathleen. It cost $19m to rehabilitate the mine site.

“But now, you can see there are still many environmental aspects which need to be addressed, and you can see that quite easily with the satellite imagery to improve the rehabilitation of the site.

“We’re still at quite an early stage. The main goal is to figure out what mining companies really need. 

“We know that the tools we have are fantastic and that answer many questions, but we need to work with the mining companies and governments to find out what they really need answered.”

Progressive rehabilitation is a policy being widely introduced including in Queensland, he said.

“And what that requires is that mining companies rehabilitate a certain percentage of their mine site per year, and that gets reported based on their activities.

“This would actually make it a lot easier and faster to at least track that.

“So, it depends on the agreement they have with the government at the time. But, at least this way, we can remove the interpretive aspects. You don’t have to estimate how much we rehabilitation has been done. You can actually put a number on it.”