Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and the Environment: the Case of Mine Waste Management

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The importance of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in environmental studies is being recognised worldwide. GIS is especially useful in waste management, where analysis of the spatial locations, dimensions, and inter-relationships between waste facilities and other mining activities, infrastructural facilities, water bodies, farmlands, forest, animal habitat, human settlements, and other objects or activities of interest, are essential for assessing impacts and control measures. This thesis examined the GIS technology and its application in mine waste management. Main areas of the technology explored were its capabilities and usefulness for integrating the large spatial and non-spatial environmental data sets involved, and for performing the spatial analysis necessary for addressing all the factors for effective management of the waste, including meeting regulatory requirements and the concerns of all stake-holders in the selection of dumping sites. Key features, operations, principles and potential applications of the technology in mining have also been covered. Detailed environmental review of the past and present mine waste disposal in Ghana has been addressed, identifying the problems thereof, the causes, and what can be done to improve the situation, including the use of GIS. One critical source of the problems is the location of dumping sites within the environment — for which the usefulness of applying GIS has been practically demonstrated in this thesis, using the Arcinfo and ArcView GIS software. The steps involved building a GIS database and applying it for analysis that included map extraction, buffering, overlaying, combination and spatial queries. A set of application methodology and procedures has also been developed for use in applying the GIS technology to solving waste management problems. The results, analysis and evaluations of the research prove that GIS will be a versatile tool for quick but effective studies and decision-making on mine waste management problems in Ghana It is therefore recommended for use by the mining companies, research institutions and the regulatory bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minerals Commission and Mines Department in their operations.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Mining Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Masters of Philosophy degree, 2003