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Defence and Space

Airbus Logo

Defence and Space

Airbus Logo

Defence and Space

Remote Monitoring of Iron Ore Mining Pits with Stack Insight banner

Remote Monitoring of Iron Ore Mining Pits with Stack Insight

Northern Cape Province

Stack Insight: The number one solution for Mining companies


With an area of more than 100km², the Sishen mine in South Africa is one of the largest open pit mines in the world. It’s dedicated to the excavation of iron ore, a basic element in the production of steel, which is important for civil engineering applications.

The mine is operated and owned by Kumba Iron Ore, a business unit of Anglo American, one of the world’s largest suppliers of high-quality iron ore to the global steel industry. Their activities are spread over Southern Africa, South America, Australia, North America, Asia and Europe including mining operations, growth projects, exploration and marketing activities.

The size of the area is a major challenge for the operator when it comes to daily decision making - and this is where Airbus Defence and Space's Stack Insight with its rapid delivery of up-to-date, accurate and highly detailed information comes into play.

Watch the following video to get an overview on the Kumba Iron Ore Business Company:

Monitoring materials - Sishen mine, South Africa

Our solution

Meeting Kumba’s Specific Needs with Stack Insight

Accurate and timely information is crucial for the Sishen’s mining and surveying team to review and plan activities - which implies decision-making on a regular basis about new blasting and excavation sites, strategic equipment placement, material movement and waste dump locations.

Furthermore, Kumba needs to keep an eye on the environmental change and compliance.

Stack Insight - Monitor Mines, calculate volumes

What is Stack Insight and how does it Support Your Activity?

Stack Insight is the world’s most uniquely accurate and advanced satellite-based change detection and remote volume calculation service for mining and civil engineering applications.

Example of a digital surface model to identify volume differences

It offers the possibility to calculate the extracted volumes of piles and stacks of excavated material without sending staff on site. The high accuracy allows the South African company to identify and track even the smallest changes in its mines and to assess changing volumes on a regular basis.

Stack Insight - Measuring volumes changes

The result of the fruitful cooperation between Airbus and Pinkmatter Solutions, a South African based specialist in geo-information software design and satellite image processing, is a service that facilitates Kumba to follow the evolution of the mine and to effectively manage their extraction.

To provide this service to the South African mining company, Pinkmatter Solutions receives very high-resolution 50cm imagery products from Pléiades optical satellites once a week which they automatically orthorectify using custom high-precision Ground Control Points. This precision ortho product is produced to fulfill all the customers’ requirements so that it can be used in their own CAD software.

So even on the same day of the acquisition of the imagery data and processing, Kumba receives a set of geographic information in form of a user friendly report to make informed decisions for optimal production and resource allocation.


  • More informed decisions about the nature and location of machinery and other resource deployments on the site 
  • All in all, monitoring an area of 100km2 is not a challenge anymore
  • Kumba benefits weekly from a set of reliable information provided by Pléiades
  • Kumba benefits from an all in one solution to monitor dump sites, excavation and infrastructure, plan operations, track progress as well as from a better overall visualisation of the mine
  • The identification of changes in the field has never been easier for Kumba. For example, the management team can now remotely calculate the volume of the stacks and piles with just a few mouse clicks
  • The mining company gets the required data faster than ever before and through traditional methods. Now they are able to make decisions in a more timely and secured manner
  • Studies at Sishen have proven that the error rate of our satellite based monitoring is fewer than 2%. By comparison, the best land surveyors have an error rate of 5%, paper maps usually a rate up to 20%

As the service proved its reliability, user-friendliness and high value, Kumba decided to integrate it in their mine in Komela, too.

Organisations Involved

The weekly update issued by Airbus Defence and Space and Pinkmatter Solutions, which is not time consuming, represents a high-value benefit for our resources management. We save time, people and money.

Johan van Heerden

Principal Mine Surveyor of Kumba Iron Ore

AngloAmerican Logo
AngloAmerican Logo

Kumba Iron Ore Limited, a member of the Anglo American plc group, is a leading value-adding supplier of high quality iron ore to the global steel industry. Kumba produces iron ore in South Africa at Sishen mine and its Kolomela mine in the Northern Cape Province. Kumba exports iron ore to customers in a range of geographical locations around the globe including China, Japan, Korea and a number of countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Pinkmatter Logo

Pinkmatter Solutions is a software company focused on design and development of tools for the automated extraction of information and intelligence from satellite imagery. They are Airbus Defence and Space privileged partner.

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