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The mining sector has been an early adopter of geospatial technologies in exploration, development and operation of petroleum and mining projects. Maintaining international competitiveness is a top priority for companies in this sector. At the same time, the industry must also maintain high safety and environmental standards.
For most applications, the sector requires accuracies of around the cm to 10 cm level. Higher accuracies are required for mine site surveying, autonomous operation of mine machinery and machine guidance. Lower accuracies are adequate for activities such as environmental surveys, monitoring and material tracking.
Augmented GNSS is increasingly being used to support environmental management at mine sites, reducing waste, more effective material management and reducing fuel use. The spatial relationship between data collected on-site, including contaminates, wastage and processing bi-product is continually being collated and used to minimise environmental impacts.
Depending on the application and the level of automation of a mine site, productivity gains can include labour force reduction from between 5 per cent and 50 per cent, with overall productivity gains ranging between 1 per cent and 15 per cent.
The cost of down time in the operation of seismic vessels in the offshore petroleum sector is has been reduced by around 10 per cent as a result of the use of augmented GNSS.
Future benefits will depend on further expansion in the availability of precise positioning technologies of which augmented GNSS is at the centre. Greater compatibility between systems will assist further use and application of augmented GNSS.
With future developments in mine surveying, autonomous mining, machine guidance and further advances in augmentation of GNSS, the future gains are achievable. However, ubiquitous positioning through strategies such as further development of CORS networks and development of GNSS consistent augmentation in deep pits will be required if these gains are to be realised.
This research estimates that output from the mining sector was between AUD 683 million and AUD 1,085 million higher in 2012 then it would otherwise have been as a result of the use of applications based on augmented GNSS. This could rise to between AUD 2,439 million and AUD 3,136 million by 2020 with further use of automated mining and related applications.