Airborne HTEM geophysics for environmental studies and mine operations

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There is growing awareness in the international mining community of the need to minimize environmental impacts associated with mine operations. Resource extraction requiring or affecting water is closely scrutinized by the public and regulated by governments. The application of airborne electromagnetic geophysics (AEM) to provide solutions for environmental and geotechnical engineering problems has increased in recent years and the mining community can benefit from these solutions. AEM techniques used by mining companies globally on a routine basis to explore for resources can also provide great value for mapping water and potential hazards in the area of mine operations.

The examples described in this paper focus on data collected by today’s advanced helicopter borne timedomain (HTEM) systems. For decades HTEM has been employed to map resources and system development was aimed at mapping increasingly deeper discrete conductors rather than mapping geology. Some of today’s HTEM systems such as SkyTEM have the capability to resolve subtle resistivity contrasts from the very near surface concurrently with depth of investigation in excess of 500 m. This with the ability to acquire data at speeds up to 150 kph makes HTEM an economic and efficient solution for a wide variety of applications.

This paper also identifies potential career options for earth science professionals who have focused solely on mining and mineral exploration and are now looking for new opportunities.

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