Mining for Everything

The April 5th issue of our e-newsletter Field Notes (and the companion online article) is about a sea change in mining in the United States. As a recap, a nationwide, 18-year moratorium on mineral surveys has just been overturned. This opens up a whole new market for land surveyors. If you have not already read about this, I recommend taking a look a TJ Frazier’s “Revival of Mineral Surveys” on our Field Notes archive online, with a link to an article by Jim Crume, PLS, MS, CFedS that explains the situation and the mineral survey process in greater depth.

You only have to watch the national media to see that mining as an industry will increase in the future and will depend on geospatial technologies across the spectrum. Mining, like all commercial activities, is driven by the global market. And the market is exploding. Gold prices are at record highs, valuable metals like copper are in huge demand for the production of electronics, and the market for rare earth materials (such as neodymium, germanium, indium, gallium, tellurium, and titanium) are exploding thanks to the integral part they play in high-tech smartphones, consumer electronics, and defense and renewable energy technologies. Currently the United States is dragging China to the World Trade Organization over their restrictions on exporting these materials. These factors all point to a surge in mining.

Mining is composed of two major activities: find and dig. The find part is accomplished with a variety of satellite, aerial, and even hand-held remote sensing technologies, generally multi-spectral and hyper-spectral imaging, that look for markers that are known to be associated with certain metals, minerals, and materials. The dig portion consists of a wide range of surveying activities that range from locating test holes with GNSS surveys to 3D volumetric scanning of mines.

On a related note, I just received great news from my old survey company: They’ve landed a major contract with a company that will be mining . . . air! More precisely, they’ll be working on a huge wind farm. These projects are major users of survey services.

Okay, you say you’re located in an area where mining isn’t an option; nor are there any windmills. You can still benefit from mining, by mining your customers. In the April issue of Inc. magazine you’ll find “Fast Growth in a Slow Economy: 5 Case Studies” that is available online. Just a few ideas include mining your customers for ways to improve your business and mining your own accounting data to weed out bad customers to focus on the good ones and improve your bottom line.

On to this month’s issue of PSM “Low (or No) Light, No Problem” illustrates Midwest Aerial’s successful attempt to push the envelope of aerial imaging in less-than-optimal lighting conditions. Their results will prove invaluable, especially for applications such as disaster response where authorities cannot wait for ideal conditions to acquire critical aerial data. Speaking of emergency situations, “Gathering Evidence Indoors” highlights the use of surveying technology to collect forensic evidence: yet another market for surveyors. “Making the Cut” focuses on machine control, a growth area for surveyors. By learning to develop three-dimensional site models for use in automated grade control systems on equipment such as dozers and motor graders, surveyors can enter this market and grow their businesses. If you look in the right places, opportunities abound.


About the Author

  • Jeff Salmon, Editor
    Jeff Salmon, Editor
    Jeff Salmon is the new editor for Professional Surveyor Magazine. For nearly 15 years he has been involved with the geospatial and surveying industries. He has worked as an instrument operator, a manager for a surveying firm, a land-use project manager and end-user of land surveying services, and a writer and editor on geospatial subjects. He started in 2005 as the Business Angle columnist, then served as the web editor and then editor for our popular Pangaea newsletter, which he still produces.

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