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GAF AG provides earth observation technology to support compliance monitoring of the future Aynak copper mine

GAF provides state-of-the-art earth observation resources to create baseline data that supports compliance monitoring and supervision of the mine development activities at Aynak – one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper deposits, located in the Logar province about 35 km south of Kabul, Afghanistan.

The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan awarded a contract for the construction and operation of a mine on the Aynak deposit in June 2008. The mine has the potential to play an important role in Afghanistan’s future, creating jobs, generating taxes and royalties to the Government, and bringing much needed infrastructure investment, thereby helping to fight poverty and terrorism. Delays in the development of the mine have already occurred due to security concerns, land mine clearing and the discovery of archaeological remains.

To ensure contract compliance and the sustainability of the development, it is critical to put in place a system for monitoring adherence to mining standards as well as environmental, social, technical and financial compliance with international best practices and Afghan laws and customs. This requires the use of accurate baseline information combined with suitable training and know-how transfer.

To this end, GAF has provided satellite image data with a resolution of 0.5 metres, as well as stereo satellite data, in order to generate a baseline data set comprising topographic image maps, a digital elevation model and 3d visualisations depicting the situation in 2012. The data set covers the area of the future mine, with its planned open pit and underground operations, waste dump, processing plant and tailings ponds. The total area of 56 sqkm is covered by 12 map sheets with a scale of 1:2500 and attributes stored in a GIS- compatible dataset. GAF has also demonstrated the potential of COSMO- SkyMed all weather and cloud penetrating radar data for multitemporal coherence (MTC) mapping: two SAR images of the same area – captured at different moments in time – recording subtle changes on the land surface. In appropriate conditions, earth movements, intrusions and also smuggling routes can be detected.
The earth observation (EO) data will help the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum to check the consistency and compatibility of the mining company’s plans and to monitor progress. At the same time the maps provide a valuable source of information that allows mining and civil engineers, mines inspectors, surveyors and environmental experts to give advice and guidance to the mining company. The data set will also form an important asset to allow the detection and monitoring of future changes in the environment, land use, land cover and infrastructure.

The provision of the EO information and associated analysis is embedded in a comprehensive capacity building project, in which GAF provides consultancy services to the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MOMP), specifically its dedicated Aynak Copper Project Authority (ACPA), as well as to the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA). The services encompass technical and legal advice, training and know-how transfer and the organisation of mines study trips to South Africa and Zambia. GAF provides expertise in mining engineering, geology and resource estimation, as well as with regard to environmental, social and health and safety and legal issues.

The activities are funded by the World Bank, International Development Association, in the framework of the Sustainable Development of Natural Resources Programme – SDNRP. GAF’s activities in this project started in 2011 and are scheduled to conclude in 2013.

About GAF AG – Germany (

GAF provides expert consultancy services in the mining governance sector, ranging from the implementation of computerised mining cadastre systems, title registries, and geological and mining information systems to the provision of capacity building and know-how. GAF, an e-GEOS, Telespazio company, is globally active and has an international reputation as an experienced provider of services in the fields of geo-information, satellite remote sensing, spatial IT- consultancy and institutional strengthening for private and public clients. GAF offers solutions in the sectors of mining and geology, natural resources, water and environment, security, land and renewable resources. Over the past 27 years, GAF has been active in more than 100 countries throughout Europe, Africa, South America and Asia.

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