Satellite Remote Sensing for Mining Facility Management

Published on 10 Aug 2023

facility management

The whitepaper titled "Satellite Remote Sensing for Mining Facility Management" presents a case study focusing on how Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), a leading mining company, employs satellite remote sensing technologies, specifically utilizing PlanetScope imagery, to manage their Tailings Storage Facilities (TSFs) responsibly, efficiently, and safely.

The case study of Freeport-McMoRan's use of satellite remote sensing, specifically PlanetScope imagery, underscores the transformative impact of modern technology on mining facility management. By embracing innovative solutions, FCX has not only addressed immediate challenges but also paved the way for a more sustainable and efficient approach to mining operations.

The success of this case study has broader implications for the mining industry and beyond. It demonstrates that remote sensing technologies, especially those offering frequent revisit times, can enhance decision-making, streamline operations, and improve safety across diverse sectors. As technological advancements continue to evolve, mining companies and other industries stand to benefit from integrating such tools into their workflows.

Overview and Challenge

FCX places significant emphasis on safety, environmental management, and the well-being of local communities. TSF management, crucial yet heavily scrutinized, posed a challenge, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced on-site capacity and inspections. The TCLW (Tailings, Crushed Leach, and Water) team sought to leverage additional satellite monitoring alongside their existing remote sensing datasets, such as Sentinel-2 and Landsat, to enhance remote monitoring.

Solution For Mining Facility Management

The solution involved integrating PlanetScope imagery into their existing pipeline, enhancing the frequency of observations for quicker insights. By adding near-daily Planet imagery to their toolkit, the team improved water area models and enabled more effective planning for daily operations. Frequent measurements through remote sensing replaced the need for physically measuring water levels, enhancing safety. The team's water management models, previously calibrated using quarterly WorldView imagery, were now fine-tuned and validated using the more frequent PlanetScope imagery.

Results and Future Prospects

The implementation of PlanetScope imagery yielded various benefits. Beyond water management and TSF operations, FCX found broader applications such as general mapping, dust control, and air quality permitting. The consistent revisit times of PlanetScope imagery empowered FCX to tackle challenges with improved accuracy. The integration of cloud computing and the anticipated increase in SkySat's spatial resolution are seen as exciting prospects for future enhancements. The continuous collaboration with Planet's software developers and product owners has significantly improved online visualizations and decision-making capabilities.

Implications of Planet’s Solutions For Mining Facility Management

Furthermore, the collaboration between FCX and Planet highlights the importance of partnerships between private enterprises and technology providers. The open dialogue and continuous development of solutions, as witnessed in this case, are crucial for refining and expanding the capabilities of remote sensing technologies to meet the evolving needs of industries.

The Freeport-McMoRan case study exemplifies the power of satellite remote sensing, specifically PlanetScope imagery, in revolutionizing mining facility management. This innovative approach sets a precedent for the responsible and efficient management of critical infrastructure in an ever-changing world by optimizing processes, improving safety measures, and contributing to environmental stewardship. As technology advances, the potential for even more remarkable advancements in remote sensing and its applications is boundless.


Download Planet's whitepaper to learn more about the uses of Planet’s satellite remote sensing for mining facility management.


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