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Detecting precious metals in Iraq by remote sensing technology – Sinam Mountain.

Hussein Shakir Al-Bahrani
Environmental Engineering & Remote Sensing Ph.D.


Remote sensing is one of the economical, practical, and fast technology, which is used to sense and detect surface and ground mineral treasures such as gold, silver, bronze, etc. It is also used for detecting oil, natural gas, and groundwater. Remote sensing is a science and art used to study, monitor, and detect specific phenomena, area, or object for the sake of determining the state, quantity, location, depth, and quality of this phenomena, area, or object without direct physical contact via analyzing their reflected electromagnetic spectrum (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Electromagnetic Spectrum.


This technology was used a lot by the author to monitor and analyze the water quality of Euphrates River from its entrance Iraq in Al-Qaim City until its union with Tigris River in Qurna City (Figure 2). He depended on analyzing the satellite images so as to estimate the water quality of the safely unstable northern stations in years (2005 – 2009).

Figure (2) Landsat mosaic satellite image of Iraq.
The field uses of remote sensing devices to sense and detect groundwater have also succeeded in Iraq and especially in Najaf Governorate. Najaf lands have huge quantities of groundwater, however their depth and quantity often differ from place to place. This technology reduces the failed wells as a result of random drilling that causes losses to farmers and project owners up to 70% (Figure 3).

Figure (3) detecting groundwater in Green Belt, the 4th station.
For precious metals, Iraq has large quantities of these metals such as gold, silver, bronze, and others. However, these treasures are not detected and extracted by Iraqi government economically because the government has not the experience and technology to detect and extract this fortune.
When American Army occupied Iraq in 2003, People observed that huge quantities of rocks and soils were taken regularly by this army from specific place. This place is Sinam Mountain (Figure 4), it locates 45 km western Basra Governorate and 8.5 km southern Safwan City at coordinates 30.126o north and 47.62o west, near to borders with Kuwait. The height of this rocky structure is about 152 m, scientifically, this is less than mountain height which should be more than 600 m from sea level. However, the people in that place have named this hill as mountain since it locates on flat surface, the name (Sinam) comes from the similarity of its figure to camel hump.

Figure (4) Sinam Mountain.
Nobody could discover and specify scientifically and practically the reason of interesting the USA Army of Sinam Mountain elements, but using remote sensing device by the author let him to know the reason. He analyzed the electromagnetic spectrum of soil and rock samples that were brought to him from this place and discovered the existence of gold and silver compounds in rocky samples, he also detected bronze compounds in soil sample (Figure 5).
Figure (5) Rocks and soil samples from Sinam Mountain.
The use of field instruments work by remote sensing technology, give possibility to sense and detect precious metals under the ground. These instruments have the ability to determine the type of these metals in addition to specify the depth and location. They could sense these precious metals at different depths up to 40 m. They can also scan area of more than 1 km2 for the sake of perceiving these metals.

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