LaJeunesse Connette, Katherine J., Connette, Grant, Bernd, Asja, Phyo, Paing, Aung, Kyaw Htet, Tun, Ye Lin, Thein, Zaw Min, Horning, Ned, Leimgruber, Peter, and Songer, Melissa A. 2016. "Assessment of Mining Extent and Expansion in Myanmar Based on Freely-Available Satellite Imagery." Remote Sensing 8 (11):912. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs8110912
Using freely-available data and open-source software, we developed a remote sensing methodology to identify mining areas and assess recent mining expansion in Myanmar. Our country-wide analysis used Landsat 8 satellite data from a select number of mining areas to create a raster layer of potential mining areas. We used this layer to guide a systematic scan of freely-available fine-resolution imagery, such as Google Earth, in order to digitize likely mining areas. During this process, each mining area was assigned a ranking indicating our certainty in correct identification of the mining land use. Finally, we identified areas of recent mining expansion based on the change in albedo, or brightness, between Landsat images from 2002 and 2015. We identified 90,041 ha of potential mining areas in Myanmar, of which 58% (52,312 ha) was assigned high certainty, 29% (26,251 ha) medium certainty, and 13% (11,478 ha) low certainty. Of the high-certainty mining areas, 62% of bare ground was disturbed (had a large increase in albedo) since 2002. This four-month project provides the first publicly-available database of mining areas in Myanmar, and it demonstrates an approach for large-scale assessment of mining extent and expansion based on freely-available data.