TIME TO SMARTEN UP YOUR MINE: Drones in mining.
Mining industries are highly exposed to fluctuations in price and demand. With a steady decline in mineral pricing impacting on the profitability and sustainability of mining operations, mine operators are constantly forced to looking for ways to safely improve productivity and reduce costs while maintaining safety standards.
Drones in mining.
Drones are often described as ideal for jobs that are Dirty, Dull and/or Dangerous. If ever there was such a job it would be on physically difficult to navigate open cast mining sites, or quarries. Combining the bird’s-eye-view of a mining site with being equipped with the latest mapping (as well as tracking and reporting) technology, drone technology is perfect for aerial mapping and scoping of these sites.
Monitoring Stockpile Inventory
DIGITAL MODEL OF THE MINE
Like with many other industries, mines are also able to benefit from the advantages of ‘digital twinning’, ie: having a digital model of a real world structure.
This is done by creating ortho-mosaics, digital surface models and three-dimensional representations of mine sites, which can then be viewed and annotated, without the need for specialist software on the customer side.
This data can then be displayed via a browser and used to:
With the ability to collect data from above the downtime associated with surveyors moving around a pit using terrestrial surveying instruments is eliminated and safety is improved by vastly reducing the time workers spend on site.
Adding airborne thermal imaging cameras present opportunities to:
GROUND-BASED VS DRONE-BASED SURVEYING.
A ground-based surveyor would measure elevation every 5–10 feet on each pile. Not only would this take a lot of time and put the surveyor at risk climbing up and down the piles, but also result in relatively few data points, compared to the digital surface area captured by a drone. It would typically take a drone about 30 minutes to cover the same size that would take a full day to cover with traditional methods and the processed dataset available in the cloud platform within 24 hours. Accurate volume calculations and comparisons can be generated in seconds, and all measurements easily exported.
A recent study showed field work for an 85 Acre site to last 4 days with drone including processing whereas with traditional survey field work lasted 13 days.
The ease of surveying stockpiles with a drone means site teams can capture data much more frequently, improving run of mine management and ensuring more consistent grades through the mill. At the same time,drones remove the risks that come with having survey personnel physically moving around the worksite.
Drone data provides an accurate and up-to-date visualization of worksites allowing for better pit and dump design and management. With regular flights, sites can build up a visual record of changes over time, allowing site managers to check weekly/monthly pit volumes and compare the current surface against previous datasets.
By overlaying KLM design files on a 3D model, teams can check conformance of the actual surface and determine the exact volume of material that needs to be extracted to meet the design. Modeling sediment flow on drone-captured elevation maps also allows for better planning of tailings basin operations.
Drones are the perfect tool to quickly and inexpensively inspect hard-to-access areas. High-resolution images, including details and aspects that may not be visible from the ground, are used by multiple departments in a variety of inspection workflows.
By being able to access data from various locations, all centrally and securely stored within the cloud, allows specialist teams to manage and service more sites than previously possible.