Aerial survey begins for Nicaragua Canal project


Nicarguan Canal

Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment (HKND Group) has announced that the aerial survey has started for the proposed Nicaragua canal route connecting the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Australia-based CSA Global will provide the technical assistance required for the survey that will cover the 276km canal corridor along with 2km-wide circumference of Lake Nicaragua.

HKND Group senior advisor John Murray said: "The survey is a major step in the construction development process and supports pre-works planning, design and engineering for the canal and infrastructure."

Two specialised aircraft have been commissioned to complete different aspects of the aerial survey of the canal route with total flight distance of nearly 18,000km.

To ensure accuracy of the survey, high-resolution digital photography and Precise Point Positioning (PPP) data processing technology will be employed along with the airborne light detection and ranging method (LiDAR).

LiDAR is capable of detecting the actual topography and surface water, while also generating terrain mapping of shallow sections of lake along the canal route.

Based on the results obtained, enhanced datasets along with reference designs and planning of the construction phase will be delivered by CSA.

CSA is conducting the aerial geological survey of the future canal route and Lake Nicaragua shore line.

According to CSA Global managing director Jeff Elliott, the majority of the data collection phase of the aerial survey will be undertaken during the next few months.

The final results from the aerial survey are scheduled to be delivered to HKND by March 2016.

"The survey is a major step in the construction development process and supports pre-works planning, design and engineering for the canal and infrastructure."

An initial technical feasibility study was conducted by China Railway Construction along the route, while McKinsey was contracted to provide fact-based research and analysis.

In 2013, the Nicaraguan Government signed HKND to plan, design, build and operate the Nicaragua Canal, an alternative to the Panama Canal.

The waterway would connect the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and is expected to take 11 years to complete, generating around 40,000 construction jobs.

According to HKND, the volume of trade on the Nicaragua Canal would increase by 240% by 2030, while the total value of goods transiting the combined Nicaragua and Panama canals is expected to reach $1.4trn.


Image: A map showing the planned canal route. Photo: courtesy of Ekem.