Map Projections

Projections for a Digital Earth

4607.3 - Towards a digital mine: Spatial database for accessing historical geospatial data on mining and related activities.

Tuesday, July 4
3:30 PM - 3:50 PM
Location: Maryland B

Background and context
Countries around the world are recognizing the importance of geospatial data in answering questions related to spatially varying industries such as mining activities (ongoing and discontinued). This is becoming increasingly evident with countries such as Canada, Australia, and United Kingdom working towards establishing abandoned mine inventories. Unfortunately this has not been the case in South Africa, where the increasing need for data on mining activities is not paralleled by an increase in the availability of such data. The Wits Digital Mine Project (WDMP) in the School of Mining Engineering, a multidisciplinary initiative aimed at the integrated use of different technologies from a wide sphere of scientific fields to improve subsurface communication systems and mine working conditions. A project was initiated to create a web-based database containing historical data on mining and related activities which would also serve as a platform for collating all other research outputs.

A user requirements survey was conducted to inform the design and data needs prior to the development of the database. Convenient and snowball sampling were used to conduct interviews with WDMP members and acquire data from respondents from institutions outside of the university with relevant research and projects. This was followed by a web and manual search for spatial and non-spatial data on mining operations in the study area. Historical paper maps were digitized using the laws of photogrammetry, which entailed: the stitching together of photographs of historical maps, georeferencing and transforming the historical maps from the Gold Fields Coordinate system to the South African datum (Hartebeeshoek 1994) and manually digitizing features of interest(mine reefs, mine shafts, ventilation tunnels) on the maps. All data retrieved from the user requirements assessment was categorized so that the data could be evaluated on the same basis, thus making data analysis easier. Thereafter responses derived from the user requirements survey and data were used to inform the design of the logical and conceptual models of the database and later in the implementation of the database using PostgreSQL and GeoServer.

Results and conclusion
The outcome of this research has been a spatial database and web-based database which provides the mining sector with tools for digitally archiving historical and contemporary data on mining and related activities created using PostgreSQL and mounted on an online platform (GeoServer); both of which are open-source software. The database is expected to be of use to at least all members of the WDMP, stakeholders involved in the broader project and the general public. The database can be used for baseline studies and also as a basis for the framework used to analyse, remedy as well as predict future challenges in the mining industry. Furthermore, the data collection phase of the study showed that a range of data on mining related activities is fragmented across a variety of sources; databases similar to this one could been used to combat data fragmentation and improve modularity across data sources. This research is important as it suggests new criteria for studying and correlating information on mining activities and disseminating information to the general public.

Samkelisiwe N. Khanyile

GIS Intern
Gauteng City Region Observatory

My research interests are positioned between the impact of mining and access to information. In particular, the increasing demand of geospatial data and the severity of the lack of access to information on mining activities which is important for the support of research, environmental management, mine safety, urban development and decision making at all levels. For my MSc work I developed designed a web-database for accessing historical geospatial data on mining activities in the wider Carletonville and Sterkfontein areas. Currently i am looking at the effectiveness of buffers around pollution sources and alternatives such as green infrastructure for mitigating impact.


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Stefania Merlo

University of the Witwatersrand

I am interested in understanding cultural landscapes through long-term, multidimensional models, generated using quantitative and GIS and remote sensing. I'm interested in the arid landscapes of Southern Libya and South-eastern Botswana, where i am documenting settlement strategies from the first millennium AD to the present. In my PhD work I developed a framework for the use of 3D GIS modelling in archaeological excavations, focusing on the translation of archaeological practice to a computer environment. More recently, I have worked on the integration of cultural information in national spatial data infrastructures that are used for decision making and national development policies.


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Miljenko Lapaine

University of Zagreb, Faculty of Geodesy

Miljenko Lapaine graduated from the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, in the field of Theoretical Mathematics. He obtained his PhD from the Faculty of Geodesy, University of Zagreb with a dissertation entitled Mapping in the Theory of Map Projections. He has been a full professor since 2003. He has published more than 900 papers, several textbooks and monographs. Prof. Lapaine is the Chairman of the ICA Commission on Map Projections, a founder and President of the Croatian Cartographic Society and the Executive editor of the Cartography and Geoinformation journal.


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4607.3 - Towards a digital mine: Spatial database for accessing historical geospatial data on mining and related activities.

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