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The Impact of Drone and UAV Technology on Mining Operations

Updated: Apr 15

The Impact of Drone and UAV Technology on Mining Operations

Introduction :

Most of the mine and minerals lie on mountain regions. There are very high topography range, steeply slope and cliff area in these regions. So surveying and mapping is not an easy task by human in this areas. The mine surveying and mapping is the most challenging and incredibly dangerous industries in the world. The drones are utilized in a vast range of applications such as surveying, mapping, search and rescue, monitoring, urban planning and management. Recently the mining industry has shown increased in the use of drone for routine operations in surface and subsurface mining. This study aims to conduct the review of surveying and mapping application of UAV drone technology in the mining industry.


What is Drone Mining Survey?

A specialist can get precise aerial data on mining sites using drone mining surveys, which can improve productivity, planning, safety, inventory management, and other areas. Drone Mining Surveys in the mining sector use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with RGB cameras to capture images of a site from many angles. After that, the data is analyzed using sophisticated photogrammetry software to create geotagged 3D maps, contour lines, digital surface models (DSMs), digital terrain models (DTMs), and other representations of the mining site that the operators can use for in-depth study.

Expert drone operators may also easily obtain an explicit estimate of the stockpile volume, which aids in inventory and stockpile control. High-quality UAVs combined with cutting-edge mining software can also be used to obtain industry-specific data, such as safety berm heights, crests and toes, road boundaries, widths, crests, slope, length, or elevation change of a mining site. In order to protect worker safety, artificial intelligence can also easily identify areas of the mining site that may be dangerous.


Why Drones are used in Mining?

The use of drones in mining has become commonplace across many companies due to its crucial and revolutionary applications. Thanks to drone technology and artificial intelligence, UAVs have brought life to the mining sector. With the ability to efficiently manage huge mine sites, provide comprehensive quarry management, and provide dependable site condition information, mining businesses can now make decisions quickly and without hesitation. For all the projects' intense insights, the use of drones for surveying, inspecting, mapping mines, and many other mining operations has made it easier to coordinate with crew members, both on and off site, in a more reliable manner.

The fact that the data obtained by UAVs reduces the need for on-site workers to adopt traditional survey techniques that need them to visit hazardous or difficult-to-reach mine locations is one of the main reasons why drones have become so popular in the mining business. Not only that, but thanks to advancements in technology, drone surveying can be completed for nearly half the price of more reliable traditional methods and yields more precise data.


Which developments are impacting the mining sector?

Aerial Surveying and 3D Mapping

Monitoring and inspection - It is believed that the mining sector is among the riskiest for laborers. Numerous risks, including rockfalls, excessive humidity, gas leaks, dust explosions, flooding, and other unfavorable situations that endanger worker safety, are associated with mining activities. Drones and drone technology have been embraced by the mining sector for the purpose of thorough monitoring and inspection of deep wells. The examination of mining equipment may now be completed quickly and affordably without the need for an experienced labor force, unlike in thepast. Aerial drone photos, which rely on Geographic information systems (GIS) and premium RGB sensors for data collection, are more precise and dependable than any kind of conventional monitoring or inspection technique.

Drones are widely used in the mining industry because they provide data that eliminates the need for field workers to visit hazardous or difficult-to-reach mining areas, which is one of the main reasons for this. Furthermore, drone measurements are nearly completely free compared to more conventional methods, and the advancement of technology allows for the collection of more precise data.


Mapping - One of the hardest and most time-consuming tasks that the mining industry must perform on a regular basis is aerial mapping. The price of precise aerial photography is 90% less than that of traditional piloted aircraft thanks to the help of high-quality drones and knowledgeable on-site drone pilots. Converting the gathered GIS data into trustworthy orthophotos and 3D models with significant volume measurements is possible.


Stockpile - Keeping track of inventory is a laborious but necessary chore for safety in any industry. The constantly shifting height and area concealed by the stack at the site presents a constant problem for the mining sector. Because these inventories are erratic, it is difficult to quantify them precisely with conventional methods like GNSS measurement. Conventional techniques for these kinds of operations can't produce consistent measurements and could potentially put surveyors in danger. Drones enable mining businesses to efficiently and often obtain vital information.


Sensors used in Drones for mining :

1. Infrared Light(IR)

2. Ultrasonic sensors

3. Red-Green-Blue (RGB) Sensors

3. Stereo cameras

4. Laser range finders

5. LiDAR Sensors

6. Ultra-wideband radar (UWB)

7. Hyperspectral Imaging

8. Aero-magnetic sensors

9. Visible and Near-Infrared Light(VNIR)

10. Air Quality Sensors


Benefits of Drone Technology in Mining Industries :

Benefits of Drone Technology in Mining Industries

1. High Resolution Data Capturing

The drone imaging carried out by drone offers precise and high resolution photographs and videos as opposed to ground based traditional inspections and mine surveying and mapping.


2. Quicker Data Collection

Drone surveys for mine sites enable to more rapid data collection, nearly 30x faster than traditional survey carried out by personnel.


3. Increase work Efficiency

The use of drone image data and mining operation have become more productive and efficient. Workers depend upon the accurate information presented by drones and make well-informed decisions quicker. The time utilized to inspect mine sites in traditional processes is now implemented in other significant mining operations by workers.


4. Economy (Cost Effective Approach)

Drone surveying and mapping technology is saving several costs, resources and time investment to comparing a ground based survey.


5. Higher Accuracy

UAV drone capturing the image with high accuracy comparing to traditional surveying. Drone technology encourage to mining industry to procure more accurately and systematic image data collection for mining operations such as volume estimations. According to drone specification there are +- 10 cm accuracy in image data capturing.


6. Worker Security

Mine surveying and mapping, inspection and monitoring using UAV is entirely remote area doesn’t demand crew members to be present at the cliff, mountain area and hazardous site.


CONCLUSION

To increase productivity and safety in mines, technological advancements and implementations are essential. Drone-based data collection and visualization solutions are also essential. The ability to efficiently gather many sorts of data with geo-tagging and cover enormous distances in mines is made possible by the advancements in sensor and drone technologies. Technical staff can be quickly dispatched to mining areas of criticality thanks to the drones' capacity to deliver vast amounts of data for study and assessment, even though there are still certain environmental concerns that may prevent drone deployment in all circumstances. Sensors for gathering data pertinent to the mining

sector can be created as the use of drone technology in the sector expands. Research efforts can also be directed toward developing suitable navigation systems for use in underground and surface mines, where GPS signals may not always be accessible. This will improve the drones' capacity to operate in tight, dusty spaces.

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