Mining, quarries, aggregates

Fixed-wing drones allow mine surveying teams to safely and efficiently capture rich datasets for multiple applications across mining operations. High-accuracy drone mapping and surveying can be used to create photo-realistic 3D models or digital twins of mining operations, earthworks projects and more to better inform decision making.

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    What are the benefits of drones in mining, quarries and aggregates?

    Time savings – Lightweight fixed-wing drones such as the eBee X can cover large areas quickly and efficiently without disrupting operations and productivity.

    Reduced cost – Efficient and accurate data capture and short processing times compared to traditional surveying methods result in high returns on investment in drones and time savings that translate into cost reductions.

    Improved safety – Remote data capture removes surveyors from dangerous areas such as mine heaps, high-walls, benches and conveyor belts without sacrificing data quality.

    High accuracy – The high resolution and regularity at which drone data can be captured enables current and up-to-date insights that help maximize site workflows.

    Detailed reporting – High-accuracy data capture improves end-of-month and other reporting by eliminating costly errors.

    Multi-use data – Drone datasets can be processed to produce data products that can be used across the entire mining operation.

    What are the applications of drones in mining, quarries and aggregates?

    Stockpile measurement – Stockpile monitoring and inventory are key in open pit operations. Drone data can be used to quickly calculate complex volumes with precision and without risk to the surveyor.

    Mine management and planning – Frequent high accuracy data collection allows better monitoring of site occupation, soil conditions, and traffic management. This data can also be used to design and optimize haulage roads and tailings facilities.

    Site monitoring – Accurate drone data can be used to monitor slope stability, tailings facilities, the bench and bench face, and for environmental monitoring to prevent catastrophic accidents.

    Water management – Drones can help with effective mine water management to improve operational performance by controlling water supply, accumulation and extraction, balance, storage, condition monitoring, and managing adverse hydrological changes through mapping outputs.

    Inaccessible areas inspection – Drones reduce the risks of mapping inaccessible areas in quarries and mines. By deploying a fixed-wing mapping drone mine staff can spend more time safely inspecting the data outputs.

    Asset management and security – Drones can be used to monitor a mine’s perimeter for security breaches or for general asset monitoring and management.

    What types of drone data outputs can you expect?

    Drone data output depends on the sensor and processing software. Select a sensor based on your data requirements. Your sensor choice will determine the drone you need to carry this payload. Typical drone data outputs you can expect from eBee fixed-wing drones, MicaSense and senseFly sensors and Measure Ground Control software include:

    Orthomosaic map – A geospatially accurate and detailed 2D representation of a site. Accurate orthomosaic maps are crucial to mining companies to monitor site occupation and measure the distance between points.

    Digital Surface Model (DSM) – DSMs take 2.5D information to give an accurate elevation representation of the mining site. This detailed model is valuable for water management, measuring a pit’s depth, and monitoring slope stability.

    3D mesh map –
    A three-dimensional texture (mesh) map with X, Y, Z data displays a site’s surfaces, walls and edges with high precision and is useful for inspecting inaccessible zones, modeling vertical faces, and detecting issues beforehand.

    Point clouds – Point cloud maps comprise millions of individual points featuring X, Y, Z geospatial coordinates and with associated RGB values, and are used to calculate stockpile volumes and other distance measurements.

    Contour maps – Topographic maps take X and Y coordinates from the aerial drone data to generate precise contour intervals. The mining industry benefits from these contour line outputs for slope monitoring.

    What software do you need?

    • eMotion software is a leading drone software solution for flight planning, geotagging and photo stitching. From here the imagery can be exported for further processing in Pix4D and other software.
    • PIX4Dmapper, PIX4Dsurvey and PIX4Dcloud photogrammetry software are popular solutions for stockpile measurement and to generate cut/fill maps.
    • Measure Ground Control can be used to manage a drone fleet, as well as to process multispectral imagery from MicaSense sensors.

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