The safety of workers in the mining sector is of great importance and must be upheld by all means possible. Surveyors seek to gather data from the mines, this being a time-consuming process and also poses a great risk to the workers.
Mining aerial survey using drones has brought about efficiency and increased productivity in the data collection process. Project surveys done using past techniques would initially take days, even weeks to accomplish. Not anymore!
UAV technology has significantly minimized the time taken in calculating areas of bench, spoil, pit, and stock pile among other metrics. The ability to collect data from an aerial position has eliminated downtime that surveyors experience while maneuvering around the mine site, a common scenario encountered when using on-the-ground gadgets to conduct a survey.
Sourcing external imagery is now a thing of the past since lots of accurate data can be collected in the smallest time possible. This has resulted in massive cost reduction. Creating Base Maps and Digital Terrain Models just got easier using drone technology in a mining survey.
Surveyors now have access to Digital Terrain Models with exceptional quality high-resolution images, offering an extensive calculation data set and detailing the mining equipment’s accurate positions at any stipulated time period.
UAV mining surveys also create ground surface and object digital representations, better known as Digital Surface Models. The methods used to process these Digital Surface Models in geo-referenced formats can be incorporated into CAD and GIS packages. Image mosaics can then be made through raw image texture projection on the surface models.
Mining surveys from an aerial point of view can be applied in:
- Terrain and structural analysis.
- Mine planning.
- Mine exploration.
- Generating mine advancement reports.
- Geological Inspection.
- Mine investigation and dump analysis.
- Mine survey, measurement, and dispute resolution.
- Mapping approximations and target generation.
Features such as alteration zones and outcrops can now be easily seen through the updated aerial photographs. Drones can be flown to specific areas as needed, eliminating large flight surveys.
Precise details regarding open pits of all sizes can now be provided such as:
- Mined areas and their volumes.
- Face positions.
- Stripping and re-vegetation.
- Position of equipment which can be identified and marked on the data package. Such include drills, shovels, pumps, excavators, pipelines among others.
Stockpiles, dams, drainage systems, tailings control facilities, and dumps can further be measured and monitored through UAV technology.
UAV technology has brought value addition to short term planning processes in mining such as dump and pit management, assessing storm damage and controlling it, haul route surface improvement, and daily mining plans communication.
Long term planning value addition such as joint mapping, haul road, pit and dump design, monitoring surface stability, mining control in negated areas, and steep inaccessible slope mapping has also been achieved. With regards to drills and blasts, you can now access quality data on updated surfaces for improved blast designs, wall damage and misfire identification, and pre and post blast data.
There’s now better access to hydrology data such as drainage basin, watershed, and water flow mapping, water management and drainage, ground water inflows thermal detection, and tailings dam management.
With regards to construction in mines, drone aerial survey allows for progress monitoring and reporting, feasibility studies, and dam wall, leach pad, and quality control of platform construction.
While conducting a mineral exploration, UAVs can assist in obtaining data for resource calculation, watershed and geophysical catchment area modeling and support photography for land usage.
More to that, drone mining surveys from aerial views can help detect erosions, pipeline leakage, flood tracking, immediate community mapping, and vegetation change tracking.
Corridor and boundary surveillance, incident evidence capture, security, change detection, and property rights definition can also be done using UAV technology in mining areas.
The use of drones in the aerial survey in mines has revolutionized the mining industry in terms of monitoring processes taking place. Worker safety has been enhanced, data collection has become easier, turnaround time has reduced significantly, costs have been minimized with a high margin, and overall productivity has scaled high.
Aerial data is now instantly accessible for mining surveyors thanks to UAV aerial technology.