Awareness of weather effects on mining very low

Sansa's Space Weather Centre in Hermanus

Sansa's Space Weather Centre in Hermanus

Photo by Creamer Media's Rebecca Campbell

26th May 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The mining industry is very unaware of space weather and of its susceptibility to space weather phenomena, South African National Space Agency (Sansa) Space Weather Centre MD Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell has cautioned.

Space weather refers to events on the sun which interact with Earth’s magnetic field and affect human technologies.

The three main types of space weather phenomena (colloquially called solar storms) are solar flares, high energetic particle streams and coronal mass ejections. These have different effects, and the effects also vary with the intensity of the particular phenomenon. Currently, the activity on the sun is increasing, as it moves towards what is called solar maximum. “We are seeing more and more intense [solar] storms, weekly,” she reported.

“We’re vulnerable to space weather because of our dependence on modern technology,” she highlighted. For the mining sector, the main area of vulnerability that has so far been identified is directional drilling. For maximum efficiency, this technique requires high precision, which is provided by satellite navigation systems, (often called GPS, which is the designation of the main such system, deployed by the US).

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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