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Up in the air: How mines are optimising stockpile surveying

“The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the mining industry has opened up countless possibilities.  From the massive reduction in time latency for survey information and aerial photos, to the ability to inspect high risk areas remotely, the UAV applications hold massive value.”

– Eric Croese, Director of Partnerships – Mining

Collecting more data, more accurately.

The benefits of using drone photogrammetry and satellite imagery for the exploratory phase of mining are well documented, but what about existing mines? How can they benefit from UAVs, or drones?

Their irregular shapes make stockpiles hard to measure, especially from the ground. Using UAVs, or drones, with high ground sampling distance doesn’t just make the surveying process quicker and more accurate. This method of measuring volumes and managing inventory, and the subsequent data produced, means more accurate stockpile models can be created and the data shared with other areas of the mining operation without typical latency.

Drones reduce time spent on site, the number of people moving around the pit and increase overall productivity by cutting projects down from weeks to mere hours, without disrupting production or sacrificing accuracy. Costs are reduced and ROI is quickly realised

In April, bhpbilliton reported savings of AU$5 million a year at their Queensland-based mining operations alone by incorporating military-grade cameras onto drones. That’s just for the capturing of real-time aerial footage and 3D mapping of their sites.

Using DroneDeploy software, Skymedia Northwest were able to cut down surveying of a 30-acre site to just thirty minutes.

While the list of processes that could benefit from the use of drones is lengthy, the exercise, and expense, would be futile if not properly incorporated into a digitisation strategy that includes the creation of an interoperable ecosystem to ensure that all areas of the mine speak to each other, in the same language.

In a mine that has been fully digitised, the feed of information from drones would likely seem like just another data dump to be sorted through. In a mine that has an interconnected data orchestration layer, this information becomes a vital part of the mining operation, working alongside legacy equipment to enable more precise real-time decision making and efficiency, at a much higher level.

Is your mining operation ready to fly into the future?

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