Modern life would grind to a halt without mining: its products are in our houses, our cars, our phones and computers. Geological surveys are at the heart of all mining activities. Until recently, these surveys were often carried out by specialists that operated on the ground. This did not only expose workers to the risks inherent in all mining activity, but was often cumbersome, expensive and time-consuming where areas were large or difficult to access.
Aerial imagery from drones does not only support mineral exploration, but can feed into the entire lifecycle of a mine, from early exploration and design phases, to constructing and running and monitoring a mine and its environment, to managing the legacy of closed sites. Parrot’s daughter company Sensefly has worked with numerous mining companies across the world to leverage the benefits of drone technologies. Examples include the survey of a new graphite mine site in Madagascar, a project to measure copper extraction in one of the world’s largest mines in Chile, or to precisely map the topography of rugged landscapes in Oman to plan for future operations in a Chromite mine.
In mining, worker safety is of paramount importance. Drone technology minimises the time staff spend on site to conduct geological surveys. This increases safety and reduces costs. Drone-based data collection also boosts productivity. Surveying projects that once took days or weeks using traditional techniques are now possible in just a few hours. What is more, thanks to drones there is no downtime required while surveyors move around a pit, as can be the case when using terrestrial surveying instruments. This makes drone technology a valuable application in mining.