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News | 1 June 2021

New report assesses the use of Earth Observation in mining

A new report from Digital Earth Australia (DEA) highlights the increasing role of Earth Observation data and services in Australia’s 150 billion dollar plus mining sector.

Earth Observation

A new report was published by Digital Earth Australia (DEA), titled 'Extracting the benefits of Earth observation'. The report which conducted “exploratory research into the potential application of EO data across key sectors”, concluded that Earth Observation technology and insights will play a vital role in the digital transformation and automation journey of the mining and mining equipment, technology and services sector. Increased adoption of EO data and services within the sector raises both opportunities and challenges. 

According to the report, some of the notable opportunities that are presented for the growth of EO use in the sector are as follows:  

  • Expansion of adoption of existing EO technologies and services across the mining lifecycle.  
  • Increased use of EO in the sector's move towards greater digitisation and automation.  
  • The potential for EO to deliver mining process efficiencies and reduce risk. 

At the same time, the report points out three significant challenges that lie in the way of this growth: 

  • Insufficient user maturity and confidence in the usability and accuracy of EO data.  
  • A lack of understanding about the limitations of EO and its impact on downstream processes.  
  • A lack of clear value propositions, communicating how EO can reduce risk and increase productivity.  

In lieu of these opportunities and challenges, the report recommends the following actions for EO providers:  

  • To increase EO awareness in general.  
  • To present EO as one part of a solution.  
  • To prioritise interoperability, documentation, standards, and ease of access to EO products.  
  • To speak in plain language about solving business and risk problems. 

According to Trent Kershaw, director, program delivery at DEA, “The opportunities for satellite data to drive growth and improvement within Australia’s mining sector are expansive. Its potential to boost efficiency, automation, safety, environmental management and ultimately profitability is significant — but so is the knowledge and familiarity gap between technology providers and potential mining users.”