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Mapping mine tailing surface mineralogy using hyperspectral remote sensing

Shang, J., Morris, B., Howarth, P., Lévesque, J., Staenz, K., Neville, B. (2009). Mapping mine tailing surface mineralogy using hyperspectral remote sensing, 35 S126-S141.


Acid mine drainage resulting from mine tailings poses an environmental threat. An important initial step towards the reclamation of mine tailing sites is to detect the presence of acid-generating, sulphide-rich minerals and determine their spatial distribution. In this study, the potential of hyperspectral remote sensing for characterizing mine tailings is investigated. The study site is located in northern Ontario, Canada, and the data were collected with PROBE-1, an imaging spectrometer that covers the visible, near-infrared, and shortwave-infrared spectral ranges. The results indicate that using the weakly constrained linear spectral unmixing technique PROBE-1 data can provide information on mineral compositions of the tailing surface. The spatial locations and associations of acid-generating source minerals such as pyrite and pyrrhotite along with their oxidation products (e.g., copiapite, jarosite, ferrihydrite, goethite, and hematite) can provide information about the distribution of oxidation processes at the site. This remote mapping technique can be very valuable when attempting to identify abandoned mine-waste sites and the potential risk they might present where there are no a priori knowledge and field samples available. © 2009, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

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