Glencore goes 3d: liDar survey shedding new light on our operations

A new aerial survey of Mount Isa Mines has captured detailed information that is tipped to drive greater efficiency and enhance environmental management and productivity.

An airborne LiDAR survey was recently carried out across our Mount Isa Mines and George Fisher Mining operations to obtain comprehensive aerial imagery and topographic information of the general lease, production areas and tailings dams as well as Lake Moondarra and Rifle Creek.

LiDAR, otherwise known as Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges and variable distances.

These light pulses measure millions of points per square kilometre and, combined with other data recorded by the airborne system, are used to generate highly accurate, three-dimensional maps or 'point clouds' of our operations.

The three-dimensional information has a range of applications and can be used for effective site mapping and measuring of assets including stockpiles and plant equipment, helping plan road corridors and informing where to build new plant and machinery.

It also assists in the environmental monitoring of revegetation and water levels, and the design and management of site drainage and containment systems.

Corey Jacobson, Senior Environmental Engineer, Health, Safety, Environment and Community says LiDAR surveys are a quick and relatively inexpensive way to gather topographic information which is vital to understanding and managing our assets.

"Mount Isa Mines is a complex industrial site with both zinc/lead and copper mines as well as processing and smelting operations," says Corey.

"Using LiDAR technology allows us to examine both natural and manmade environments with a high level of accuracy and precision."

"Conducting the survey didn't impact on any of our day-to-day operations and inaccessible and high risk areas were able to be safely monitored and surveyed."

Normally LiDAR is conducted via an aircraft travelling at a height of 1500 metres but a portion of this survey was performed at a relatively low-level altitude at 550 metres above ground level to obtain higher resolution images of production areas. This altitude is still more than 250 metres above the Lead Smelter Stack.

LiDAR doesn't just make life easier for surveyors and mining professionals and Corey says everyone working on the mining lease can access, and benefit from, the information gathered.

"We really want to share this information with our workforce and lots of different operational areas can benefit from the data," Corey says.

"This innovation has the ability to improve the safety and productivity of our operations."