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EO for Monitoring Mining Infrastructure

Supported by $125,000 in co-funding from LOOKNorth's Technology Validation Program, Effigis Geo-Solutions of Montréal, Québec is conducting a project to evaluate satellite-based monitoring technologies for northern mining applications. The project, launched in July 2012, is being  conducted over a period of 20 months.

Over the past 30 years, the Canadian North has seen significant mining development, owing to substantial finds in northern regions, increasing commodity prices and continual improvements in technology for exploration and production. In the context of growing investment in northern prospects, one of the major challenges for the Canadian mining industry is management of operations during the region’s brief summer seasons and in permafrost environments that are being increasingly impacted by climate change.

Large areas of permafrost are undergoing seasonal thaw, which affects both mining and community infrastructure: the ground surface may subside after thawing and rise again as it  re-freezes. Current methods of permafrost monitoring, based on on-site field investigation, are costly and provide accurate  information on sampled points only. Earth observation data from satellites can provide integrated information and maps over the whole area of interest in a cost-effective manner.

The purpose of this project is to validate the usefulness of satellite-based  interferometry technology to monitor infrastructure deformation related to changes in underlying or nearby soil/permafrost conditions. High-resolution radar images are being used to measure deformation of infrastructure and/or the underlying/nearby ground that might be caused by changes in permafrost extent.