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Mineral Resource Development and Geospatial Modelling in Australia

Mining is a key industry for Australia and has been for centuries. Mineral resources are an important driver of the national economy, accounting for more than 12% of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017. Many minerals play an important role in manufacturing and other industries, including construction, electrical equipment and appliances and chemicals. The value of mineral resources estimated in 2015 was A$172 billion, with the majority of these resources found in Western Australia. Mining contributes directly to GDP through taxes paid as well as indirect jobs supported by suppliers and contractors who purchase materials and services from mining companies.

Mineral resources are also used to map landscapes so that they can be managed sustainably. This blog discusses mineral resource mapping using geospatial modelling software, including the different types of modelling available, how to select the right software for your project, best practices when using geospatial modelling software and common costs involved with using this type of software.

Why Do We Need to Map Mineral Resources?

Mining plays a vital role in the Australian economy, as well as its society. Geospatial modelling helps to map mineral resources and assess their potential for development. In particular, geospatial modelling allows companies to assess the potential for development of their mineral resource. This is of significant value to companies who have interests in developing a particular area of land or water.

Geospatial mapping has been used for hundreds of years in Australia, but digital advancements have brought about newer methods that are more cost-effective and user-friendly than traditional methods. Geospatial mapping solutions provide a range of mapping solutions to suit different needs in terms of scale, accuracy and cost.

Types of Geospatial Modelling Software Available

There are a number of different software types available to model geospatial information. These include:

  • Hierarchical Data Modeling
  • Geographic Information System (GIS)
  • CAD Systems (Computer Aided Design)
  • Graphic-based Software

These software types can be used for modelling any type of geospatial information and have their own features and benefits. GIS is the most widely used type of software, as it was first introduced in 1960 by the US Department of Transportation. GIS is typically used for large scale visualisation, whereas CAD systems are more commonly used for engineering applications where precision is needed.

Other forms of geospatial modelling software include graphic-based software and hierarchical data modelling. Graphic-based tools allow you to create 3D scenes with various types of textures and materials, while hierarchical data modelling allows you to create models that provide a high level overview or look at subsets of data in relation to other models over time. Both types of this kind of software come with their own benefits and costs that need to be considered when using them as part of your project.

Advantages of Using Geospatial Modelling Software

Geospatial modelling software has many advantages for mining companies. For example, geospatial modelling software allows for a more accurate assessment of minerals and ore reserves, as it can simulate the production of minerals in different areas. This helps to reduce costs and also minimise environmental effects from mining activities. Geospatial modelling software also provides a platform for training and exploration planning, so that land use and spatial planning can be more efficiently and accurately planned.

Disadvantages of using geospatial modelling software

Geospatial modelling software is useful for mapping resources but it also has limitations. One of the biggest disadvantages of geospatial modelling software is that it can only map resources that are located on land or in shallow water, so many types of minerals found beneath the Earth’s surface cannot be mapped by this type of software. Additionally, geospatial modelling software can only model a resource if they are very close to the Earth’s surface, ultimately limiting their effectiveness.

Another disadvantage is that geospatial modelling software can take up a lot of time and resources. For example, some models require specific inputs such as soil composition and rock types which need to be delivered to the model as raw data in order for them to produce results. This means that you need to give your input at least two weeks before your project starts so your data will be ready for use with your chosen model. Furthermore, using this type of software means that you have less control over the final output; you may not always get what you were looking for with your project.

How Much Does it Cost to Use Geospatial Modelling Software?

Geospatial modelling software can be costly to use and the costs vary depending on the type of project. The cost of geospatial modelling software typically includes three main components: licence fees, data acquisition fees, and personnel fees.

Data acquisition fees are a one-off fee for purchasing data from third-party databases or agencies. Personnel fees pay for staff salaries for your project’s duration. Licence fees typically cover ongoing use of the software, including support services such as remote assistance or an operations manual for your project.

Which Types of Organisations Can Use Geospatial Modelling Software?

Geospatial modelling software can be used in a variety of different ways. Although there are many commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software packages available, geospatial modelling is not typically the primary function for these systems. The software is most commonly used by organisations to create maps or elevation data for aerial mapping, environmental studies and hydrology projects.
The first step when looking at geospatial modelling software is to understand what type of system you need. Geospatial models can be divided into two broad categories: raster (point) and vector (line). Raster models deal with a digital image at the pixel level, while vector models use lines or polygons to map topography or elevation data. Which one you decide on depends on your project’s needs.

Another factor to consider is whether you want an enterprise system with support that could span multiple projects or an individual package that is tailored towards one particular project. Again, the choice comes down to what your project requires.

Tips for Choosing the Right Geospatial Modelling Software for Your Organisation

The first step to choosing a geospatial modelling software is to understand your needs. What kind of information are you looking for? How will you use the software? How often do you need the results? What budget do you have to work with? Will the software be integrated into an existing system or will it be used for a stand-alone project? Finally, what type of data does the software support and how many users can access that database at once?

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to search for software. You’ll want to start by comparing different types of geospatial modelling software, rather than just looking for one specific program. Geospatial modelling software is often broken down into three categories: desktop GIS, web mapping, and field mapping.

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