Remote Sensing in Australia’s Uranium Exploration

Introduction

Remote sensing is the new phenomenon that is getting more preferred and being used in some countries around the world. Ideally, remote sensing involves obtaining or rather sourcing information about areas, minerals and objects of various natures from a distance (Prost 2014). There is no physical contact that ensues on the use of remote sensing. Classically, the progression of remote sensing is done from aircraft and satellites. Active sensors include those using stimuli that are wholly in-house to gather imperative evidence about the earth. Conversely, passive remote include those that react naturally to external stimuli.

Project Summary

The project summarily intends to look at the aims that are brought forth by this study. The background and other relevant sub-topics as shall be seen later in the project. Its background gives a highlight on the efficiency that gets achieved in Uranium extraction by using this modern means of exploration. Exploration for Uranium and other minerals that are deep-seated in the ground gets more efficient by using remote sensing and knowledge of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) (Clarke 2011).

Furthermore, the project presents the applications of remote sensing in Uranium exploration. Additionally, the use of Gamma Spectral Data in Australia is another technique that shall be brought forth in this project. Later the significance and innovation of this whole information that is of great vitality in the project shall also see it brought forth (Prost 2014).

Aims

The research, solely, determines the manner in which remote sensing and enriched data can be of great benefit to uranium exploration within the Yeelirrie region in Australia. It can transcend to other parts of Australia and ultimately to other areas of the world. Also, it requires that all other forms of mineral exploration and research is conducted using the remote sensing technique. It aims at bringing forth the effectiveness of the use of aerially placed means of exploration as opposed to the traditional means (Dennis 2012). The later requires mineral explorers and researchers have the physical contact when exploring regions for minerals such as Uranium and others. On this stated aim, it expects to find sound means that boost even the use of remote sensing and knowledge of GIS.

The other aim is to establish and present ways through which this noble process gets carried out. It eases the work burden and leads to the rise of better means of doing things and carrying out tasks of various nature. As shall be seen in the applications, this is a vital aim of this project. It interfaces with the latest arrival in technology and discovery of better and sophisticated means of carrying out exploration and research on minerals (Dennis 2012).

Background

Since the year 2004, the prices of Uranium have increased fourfold (Robinson 2009). There is an ever-increasing demand for this particular mineral, especially in nuclear reactor stations and companies in countries (countries that have developed this form of energy production) across the whole world. In China, for instance, there are 66 nuclear reactors that are currently under construction, this aspect notwithstanding, the prices of Uranium are still on an upward trend.

China’s rapid involvement in increasing the production of Uranium in the country has sparked an inevitable impetus for a more vibrant and increased Uranium exploration in the whole world. The growing demand and the rising prices for this particular commodity get fanned by the global shift of preference of energy sources. The world is moving towards cleaner burning fuel. It is also vital to point out the increase in populations that ultimately lead to increased demand for energy. Uranium turns out to be an excellent choice for energy production because mainly it a cleaner burning fuel, and it significantly leads to the production of higher amounts of energy (Robinson 2009).

The fossil fuels that are notorious for the massive production of Carbon IV Oxide are increasingly becoming less widespread. Questions get raised as to whether the reserves of fossil fuels such as coal can stand the test of time. Therefore, the need to invest more in nuclear power became more pronounced. The demand for uranium has fueled the need to invest adequately in the industry sector of uranium (Savinelli 2012).

Uranium exploration in Australia

The process of exploring minerals is not a simple process. It requires a compilation of huge data. A variety of compiled data through the process of remote sensing helps to ascertain the amount of extractable Uranium ore. It is fundamental to incorporate new types of data that are presented by GIS to help reduce uncertainty in the analysis of potential extracting sites (Savinelli 2012).

GIS Data

Uranium exploration chiefly involves the analysis of GIS data. The compilation of seismic data and water flow data helps analysts to determine whether or not Uranium mineralization is possible in a particular region. GIS data has been for a long time, collected by ground checks. This technique is not devoid of a certain degree of uncertainty; thus enriched GIS data would lead to increased efficiency and certainty (Clarke 2011). Here is where, remote sensing technology, particularly gamma spectroscopy and Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) infrared data are the two primary techniques will provide the much-needed enrichment.

Remote sensing

Remote sensing techniques are used to collect an array of data by using sensors. These sensors may get mounted on aircrafts, car roofs, and earth-orbiting satellites. There are arguably some sensor types employed in the data collection process; each has their ranges of spatial resolution and spectral sensitivity. Aster data has helped differentiate between clay alteration patterns and has been used effectively to locate copper and gold deposits (Prost 2014).

Applications of remote sensing in Uranium Exploration

Uranium Isotope U238 and U235 emit gamma ray energy (MEV) 2.62, with a wavelength of 4.74*10.4 (Robinson 2009). The rays are identified using semi-conductor detectors, which often may use a variety of detecting applications. The sensors can be attached to an aircraft and flown over the particular areas of interests. Research points out that there is a very strong link between the radioactive isotope content and mineralogy this, in essence, is what remote sensing entails (Prost 2014).

Infrared data, or thermal radiation, is used to detect the temperature variations. For mineral exploration, it collects vital information about the surface temperature and thermal properties of rocks and soil. It can help greatly in identifying the materials that are being explored. Dennis (2012) points that infrared data was used in the XIangshan uranium deposit of Jiangxi Province to locate the gold and Uranium. Also, there was also hematite, chlorite, illite, and calcite.

The infrared band sensor was able to pick out the positive ions of (Fe2+, Fe3+, and Cu2+) emitted by the stated minerals. All these get closely associated with uranium alteration. The latter minerals were also mined at the sites, showing a correlation with the remote sensing data (Dennis 2012).

Prost (2014) explains a case in which Landsat ETM+ was used to collect spectral gamma information from an aircraft in Chhattisgarh, India. The research was able to detect uranium alteration zones using seven bands of Principal Component Analysis (PCA). The key bands were PC6, 5, and & which signify iron oxide and hydroxyl bearing minerals. These readings get overloaded with GIS data showing high certainty for uranium alteration.

Significance and innovation

Significance

The vital aspect of this research is that it will allow for further research that will help enrich the GIS database. When GIS gets enhanced with further advancement in technology many a research, this will be of great importance to the exploration of uranium in Australia. GIS data interfaced with proper and sophisticated remote sensing is bound to improve the effectiveness of Uranium exploration and mining in Australia. Other minerals can also be located using GIS knowledge and remote sensing (Prost 2014).

Innovation

Innovation is bound to improve upon enrichment of GIS data and remote sensing. It is bound to lead to more worthwhile projects and more funds being pumped into this noble means of exploration. It results in innovation and invention of better and more powerful machines that get used in the exploration of Uranium among other minerals (Hughes 2011). The condition of the soil and the ocean can get assessed upon invention and innovation of new machines and data variety.

Methodology

The introduction to the use of advanced remote sensing is the new method that gets direly needed in mining companies in Australia. Although the benefits of using this method may take some time to get acknowledged, it is an entirely worthwhile methodology (Hughes 2011). The method would see it being rolled down on a pilot testing first before being fully implemented. It is to ensure that the system development are thoroughly tested and corrected before it becomes operational.

Steps in the pilot change over

  1. Piloting the trial version.
  2. Documentation of the new system.
  3. Implementing the new system.
  4. Evaluation and monitoring.

The new system is introduced for a trial period while the old system is kept running. Tests are carried out, and possible errors and omissions remain duly corrected. If all the tests are passed, the new system gets documented and inputted with the necessary data and then fully implemented. Also, this ensures the consideration of end user requirements. After that, the new system takes to be evaluated and monitored in a constant manner.

Approach and training

As outlined by Prost (2014), the following are the main tasks that are of significance in strategy and training:

Task one – Gathering of data

Gathering of data helps to establish the current techniques that are being used in the mining process. The method gets compared with the returns and the financial investments pumped into mining. The basis of improving the mining sector and embracing enriched GIS and remote sensing is bound to be found owing to a comparison of the gathered data.

Task two and three – Analyzes of issues

At this level, it helps to determine what is needed, what needs to change or improved concerning exploration and mining for minerals including Uranium. Task three ensures precise linguistic representation. It is a stage that gets the gathered data analyzed correctly and then explicitly represented numerically and linguistically. Once this happens, operators and trainers can easily maneuver through the training process.

National Benefits

At a lower cost, Australia will be able to continue to provide uranium to help meet the world’s growing demand for cleaner energy while providing economic support to the local and national economies (Dennis 2012). The discussed techniques will also be able to help locate the type of minerals such as gold, lead, copper and ilmenite.

References

Clarke, M. (2011). Australia’s Uranium Trade. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.

Dennis, S. (2012). Advanced Geochemistry. Delhi: Research World.

Hughes, F. (2011). Geology of the Mineral Deposits of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Parkville: Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

Prost, G. (2014). Remote Sensing for Geoscientists. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Robinson, L. (2009). Modern Mineral Exploration in New South Wales. Sydney: Robinson & Partners.

Savinelli, P. (1983). Australian Mineral Production and Policy. New York: Springer.