Monitoring Surface Mining Operations in Guyana: Challenges and Geospatial Alternatives

Jamie Leigh Nedd, Dina Khadija Benn & Gesit Woldemariam

Published: October 4, 2021 • Book of Abstracts – Student Research, Volume 2


Jamie Leigh Nedd ✉️ Gesit Woldemariam Department of Petroleum and Mining Engineering. Faculty of Engineering and Technology. University of Guyana – Turkeyen Campus. Greater Georgetown, Guyana.

Dina Khadija Benn Department of Geography. Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences. University of Guyana – Turkeyen Campus. Greater Georgetown, Guyana.


Guyana’s mineral extractive industry has seen immense growth since the 1800s and continues to be the nation’s main revenue contributor. This growth is accompanied by dire environmental and social impacts, as studies have shown that surface mining is associated with deforestation, land degradation, and biodiversity loss. Regular monitoring of surface mining activity is therefore necessary to ascertain and mitigate impacts. This research investigated the challenges of monitoring surface mining in Guyana and a preliminary assessment of the potential for geospatial methods to support monitoring efforts. Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted with mine managers, mining engineers, and analysts at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, and global case studies were reviewed using thematic analysis. The findings indicated five key challenges in monitoring surface mining activities in Guyana: limited manpower, budget limitations, data inaccuracy/subjectivity, limited access to remote locations, and hostile encounters with miners. It was found that three of the most common geospatial methods applied globally for monitoring surface mining are Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar, and Kriging modelling. Such geospatial methods may be applied in Guyana to support monitoring of environmental pollution, detect land cover change, and inform policy in the sector. Geographic information systems and remote sensing assets already in place at the regulatory agencies can be optimised through training in support of the monitoring process to alleviate some of the reported challenges. This research highlights the need for effective alternative methods of monitoring surface mining activities in Guyana, and the opportunity to leverage available geospatial components towards reducing undesirable environmental impacts.

 

Keywords: Monitoring; Surface Mining; Geographic Information System, Remote Sensing

 

 


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Published: 2021-10-04