Enhanced Pollution Monitoring (EPM)

Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM), Abandoned Mines and Repositories (AMR), whether legal or illegal, are associated with negative environmental, social-economic and socio-cultural impacts. Despite regulations, bans, complaints, encouraging cooperatives and associations, in many locations ASMs are continuously and rapidly expanding out of control. At the same time, abandoned mines and repositories – contaminating water, soil, and infrastructures with dissolved metals and acidity – are often disregarded.

EPM’s overall objectives are to provide customized remote sensing services aiming:

  • To map ASMs, monitor their expansions and assess environmental impacts;
  • To map AMRs, monitor mine/repository stability and assess environmental impacts.
  • Moreover, since regulators – within the national legal framework – are also responsible for ensuring compliance of Large Scale Mining (LSM), products verifying mining operations conformity are additionally considered.


Who are the users?

  • Regulators responsible for ensuring compliance of ASMs and LSMs with national legal frameworks.
  • Non-Governmental Organizations working on national and international levels and including watchdog organizations that critically monitor mining activities.
  • Consulting companies in the domain of treatment of mine wastes and remediation.
  • Multi-disciplinary consulting companies offering services in the fields of applied environmental and social sciences.
  • ASM certification bodies developing standards to transform ASMs into a sustainable and responsible activity.
  • Non-for-profit and membership organizations developing standards within the mining industry are to be approached as key representatives for technology and service validation.


The service

Overall, the service

  • provides objective and detailed information of:
    • location and extent of artisanal mines,
    • amount and area of the artisanal mines within the extent,
    • on-going activities,
    • environmental impact,
  • regularly update the status,
  • identify anomalous land cover changes which could deal with the development on new mining activities,
  • monitor anomalous land displacements in particular of tailing dams,
  • backtrack mining history of repositories and LSMs.

Three complementary service lines are offered:

  1. Galamsey is a local Ghanaian term which means illegal small-scale gold mining in Ghana. GalamWatch is a service – primarily meant for Regulators – to identify illegal ASMs and anomalous land cover changes – in primis associated with deforestation – which could be associated to coming illegal mining activities.
  2. The current condition of abandoned mines and waste repositories – typically scattered in remote areas – is often unknown. Not rarely, the areas are prone to natural disasters – torrential rains, flash floods and earthquakes that trigger landslides and the destruction of tailings dams. AbandonedMinesWatch is a service – primarily meant for consulting companies – to identify abandoned mines and waste repositories and monitor tailing dams stability and/or landslides movements in their surrounding areas.
  3. Artisanal mines activities in conflict regions can be identified exclusively through remote systems since the access to those regions is prevented. MiningWatch is a service – primarily meant for NGOs – to provide evidence of on-going ASM activities particularly targeted to the estimation of extracted material.

Depending on data availability, level of detail, and requested information, satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Optical data, drone or terrestrial stereo data are used to generate customized products relating to:

  • topography,
  • land cover,
  • land cover changes,
  • land displacements.

The choice to consider different technologies is dictated by:

  • the different needs of the identified users,
  • the requested level of detail,
  • the temporal sampling and duration of the measurements,
  • the remoteness of the area,
  • the accessibility of the area,
  • the available budget.

Given that the information may be sensitive, in particular for regulators, it is foreseen that the service solution is installed at local premises and managed by the local technical staff, who are specifically trained and technically supported.


Current countries – Ghana, Liberia, Chad, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan

Latest news – Galamsey war: IMCIM trains personnel on EPM

The team – sarmap, Cole BakerAssociés, CreaLinQ

Contact – Francesco Holecz, fholecz@sarmap.ch