Tropical Savannas CRC > Education & Training > PhD Projects: 1996-2001 > Remote sensing and mine rehabilitation

TS-CRC Student project - An evaluation of remote-sensing technologies for rehabilitated mine site assessment

Charles Darwin University. Completed.

Kirrilly Pfitzner

Summary | Progress | More information |


The objective is to evaluate the use of remote sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques to assess the rehabilitation of two abandoned mine sites, Rum Jungle (NT) and Captains Flat (NSW).

Traditionally, assessing the rehabilitation of mine sites relies on field data assessment that can be time-consuming and expensive. In addition, localised traditional field site measurements do not sample the entire surface and are often collected in fragmented field studies.

Remote-sensing techniques coupled with a GIS could potentially provide a synoptic view of all landscape elements, low-cost coverage and use of spectral information for surface feature identification.

However, as mine sites are characteristically spatially complex and occupy small areas of land, the remotely sensed options for direct mine-site rehabilitation assessment are limited.

This study focuses on the analysis of data collected by airborne hyperspectral sensors that provide high spatial and spectral resolutions.


Research and write-up to date has focused on the use and analysis of hyperspectral remotely sensed images over abandoned mine sites for determining the usefulness and suitability of hyperspectral remote sensing to assess rehabilitation. Rum Jungle (NT) and Captains Flat (NSW) were chosen as study areas. Both of these areas are historical mine sites and produce acid.

As an example, results at Captains Flat showed that with appropriate corrections for atmospheric contributions and with field spectrometer readings, minerals produced as a result of acid-generating processes, such as jarosite, ferrihydrite, and shwertmannite, could be detected, discriminated, and spatially located. Hyperspectral remote-sensing techniques also allow determination of vegetation cover and health.

Rum Jungle is located 64 km south of Darwin, on the east Finniss River. It was mined for Uranium and Copper deposits from 1952 to 1971. There was very little legislation covering mining operations at this time and as a result severe environmental degradation occurred. Rehabilitation began some 10 years after mining ceased, and was a result of aesthetic, public health and environmental concerns.


Dr Kirrilly Pfitzner
Remote Sensing Officer
Tel: 08 8920 1141

Fax: 08 8920 1191

GPO Box 461