During the removal of overburden, toxic or acid-forming materials are often encountered and must be segregated and isolated during mining so as not to be a detriment to successful revegetation, spoil disposal areas, affect the stability of backfill or contribute to acid mine drainage (AMD). It is not always apparent from an on-the-ground inspection that AMD is present or it may be in a location that is not easily accessed. (VIP 4) High resolution multispectral satellite imagery can help identify the location and extent of AMD on a mine site. The process involves the use of known acid ponds and drainage sites from a nearby mine area Using image processing software, a collection of spectral signatures from these AMD training sites is created. Then, the image of the target area is processed looking for other sites with similar spectral traits. Once the AMD sites have been identified, an inspector can field-check each one to confirm the acid level. After acid sites are confirmed by the inspector, the information can be provided to the mine operator so the areas can be remediated. Imagery acquired at a later date can be used to monitor remediation progress. Figure 4 shows how QuickBird-2 satellite imagery was used successfully to identify AMD sites located at the Valley Creek mine sites in Tennessee.
Acid mine drainage/toxic seeps identified in satellite imagery of the Valley Creek mine sites by using a few training points.