Industries: Mining and Infrastructure
Like most pipeline projects Metgasco needed accurate mapping information, quickly and within tight budgets. The challenge for Metgasco Ltd was to design a pipeline to take natural gas from the Clarence-Moreton Basin near Casino, over the Mcpherson Ranges, to the CS Energy Swanbank Power Station near Ipswich, in Queensland. The McPherson Ranges on the border of South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales represents some of the most picturesque landscapes in Australia.
Mipela who were managing the GIS integration of the project contracted Terranean to carry out a 135 sq km LiDAR survey to provide 1m contours suitable for Metgasco engineers to carry out detailed route selection and engineering design. The project had a number of considerable challenges: Tight time constraints; significant areas covered in vegetation; and the project timing coincided with heavy rain and constant cloud cover.
The project successfully overcame these challenges. The key factors were:
- The high pulse rate of the Terranean scanner enable good penetration of the vegetation and definition of the ground;
- The characteristics of the scanner meant that a “square” pattern of points reached the ground rather than a stretched “rectangle”. This resulted in an even spread of points over the large area of the project which resulted in a consistently detailed DEM which in turn allowed route selection to be made with confidence.
- The flexibility of the plane and scanner allowed flying under the clouds, even in rugged terrain, meaning we did not need to wait for fine weather;
The end result was a high integrity DEM and one meter contours captured at a fraction of the cost of manual survey or photogrammetric methods which were ideal for the purpose of route selection and design.
GIS Services for Major International Mining Project
Terranean's expertise in GIS and cartography are often put to use in multi-disciplinary projects. An example is our role in the Guinea Alumina Project. The Guinea Alumina Project involves the development of bauxite mine, alumina refinery and associated infrastructure in Guinea, West Africa. The principle project partners are BHP Billiton and CBG which is partly owned by the Guinea Government. Bechtel is contracted to design and build the mine and refinery, perform the necessary feasibility studies and environmental and social assessments.
Terranean was engaged to manage the diverse datasets that are used for projects such as this. Initially Terranean conducted an inventory of available datasets and developed a structured and documented GIS system that included among other datasets, topographic mapping, engineering designs, aerial photography, terrain surfaces, landuse and landcover maps and ecological and geological data. The Guinea Alumina Project has a long history of exploration, resource estimation, and pre-feasibility studies. During this process, enormous amounts of information were collected, updated and superseded. Terranean has the responsibility of ensuring that the different sections of the project are using the most current information.
In November 2007, the project moved into a new phase and Terranean was required to produce a great number of maps and figures and perform spatial analyses for a number of sub-projects including resource estimation, feasibility study, telecommunications, engineering design and social and environmental impact studies. All the projects had tight time frames and Terranean worked closely with the different project teams to coordinate and manage datasets from Brisbane, Perth, Montreal Canada, Denver Colorado and Sangaredi Guinea.
More than 80 maps were produced during November and December 2007, ranging from A0 sized resource maps to A4 report figures and a "context" map of Guinea and west Africa.
Terranean continues to manage the complex and comprehensive GIS. The project is a good example of how Terranean provides GIS support to multi-disciplinary projects.
Trans-Western Australia Underground Gas Pipeline
In February 2004, Terranean partnered with Vision Communicators to provide high resolution digital ortho-rectified imagery covering a pipeline corridor in Western Australia, some 3500km in length.
The client required an up-to-date image, in a timely manner, to provide a tool for managing this gigantic asset.
The tight time frames for this project necessitated an alternative approach to traditional aerial photography.
The Digital Sensor System (DSS) was designed for digital mapping acquisition and its processing. The system consisted of a high-resolution digital camera, with a POS AV direct geo-referencing system attached, and a flight management system.
The DSS was located in the US, brought into Australia, and within three
hours of arrival the camera was fitted and operational on-board the aircraft.
The system captured high-resolution digital imagery at 0.15m-pixel resolution
with more than 7000 overlapping frames. Off-the-shelf photogrammetric
software was used to ortho-rectify and mosaic the imagery. Because no
film processing or scanning was involved, this process was much faster
than traditional film-based methods, allowing a rapid supply of imagery
to the client. Some 700Gb of imagery was processed and supplied in MapInfo
The immediate task of quality control could be carried out as a result of the project. The vegetation adjacent to the pipeline was scanned over its entire 3,500km length for dead vegetation, which would indicate gas leaks. This process, in itself, saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, because the majority of the inspection could be carried out in the office. Inspection crews were dispatched to points of concern, rather than having to inspect the entire length of the pipeline.
The data also provided the basis for ongoing asset management and maintenance. An unexpected benefit of the project was that the client found a significant number of undocumented assets, resulting in a substantial and unexpected windfall.
In the late 1800s, the Gympie Goldfields were an engine of growth for a developing Queensland. In the early years, huge quantities of gold were extracted much of it by manual, alluvial methods. The “easy pickings” were soon depleted leaving large mining consortiums to follow the gold seams deep underground. One hundred years later there is still gold in Gympie; however, it is harder to extract and far more sophisticated techniques are required to locate and estimate the size of the resources.
In 1991, Gympie Eldorado Gold Mines acquired the mine at Gympie and initiated an active regional exploration program. Initially, there was an enormous quantity of uncatalogued exploration data, some dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. These data included field survey notes, drill logs, geological maps, interpretations in various scales and projections, airborne and ground geophysics in different formats, media and levels of processing. The challenge was to process and integrate these valuable, but unusable, data resources into an integrated information base, which could be interrogated and used to support multi-million dollar investment decisions.
Terranean worked with mine staff to develop a system of managing and making best use of this extensive and disparate information resource.
Terranean compiled the diverse forms of information into an integrated GIS database. GIS database development is a potentially expensive and complex process, which could easily become an over-engineered mix of unrelated maps. We drew on years of experience to structure the data in a practical and cost-effective way, which could be used by non-GIS mining professionals.
The GIS formed the basis of Gympie Eldorado Gold Mines’ exploration program for the next ten years.
Also, Terranean sourced a range of new information for the exploration GIS, such as satellite images, digital topography (including drainage network), and DEM’s. By integrating this information into a single “digital light table”, it was possible to refine the mineralisation models, and better understand the sub surface geology.
Specifically, the “digital light table” showed that the Gympie Gold Field was formed by hydrothermal activity emanating from a sub-surface intrusion, adjacent to the intersections of two major strike-slip faults. The intersection of the faults is associated with an extensional zone and the characteristic block faulting of the Gympie Gold Field. The block faulting provided conduits for hydrothermal fluids, which produced the famous Gympie Veins within the Permian carbonaceous shales; an ideal host rock for hydrothermal deposition.
The development and use of an accessible GIS that contained a wealth of different information enabled mine staff to better model the geology of the Gympie Gold Field. This model provided the basis for intensive drilling programs and major investments in the expansion of the mine, including the construction of a “drive-in” decline to supplement the refurbished West of Scotland Shaft.