Drones for
Mining

Capture more data, more safely

Anyone involved in mining knows that worker safety is of paramount importance. By allowing surveyors to collect accurate spatial data from above, drone or UAV technology can vastly reduce risk by minimising the time these staff spend on site.

Drone-based data collection can also boost productivity; surveying projects that once took days or weeks using traditional surveying techniques are now possible in just a few hours. Plus, thanks to a drone’s ability to collect data from above, there is no downtime required while surveyors move around a pit, as can be the case when using terrestrial surveying instruments.

With fewer man hours required to produce large, accurate data sets, and no need for externally-sourced imagery, the result is vastly reduced costs. In fact, many operators report that a single imaging drone – comparable in price to a mid-range GPS rover – can pay for itself in just a few months.

Drones can add value to:

Short-term planning

  • Pit & dump management
  • Communication of daily/weekly mining plans
  • Haul route surface optimisation
  • Storm damage assessment & control

Long-term planning

  • Haul road, dump and pit design
  • Geotechnical
  • Surface stability monitoring
  • Joint mapping
  • Control for mining in void areas
  • Mapping of steep inaccessible inclines

Drill & blast

  • Up-to-date surfaces for optimised blast designs
  • Pre- & post-blast data
  • Identification of misfires & wall damage

Geology

  • Stock pile management
  • Grade control & exploration planning

Hydrology

  • Drainage and water management
  • Watershed, drainage basin & water flow mapping
  • Thermal detection of ground water inflows
  • Tailings dam management

Construction

  • Feasibility studies
  • Leach pad, dam wall & platform construction quality control
  • Progress monitoring & reporting

Mineral exploration

  • Resource calculation
  • Geophysical & watershed/catchment area modelling
  • Supporting photography (land usage, SEIA etc.)

Heritage & environmental management

  • Reporting
  • Erosion detection
  • Vegetation change tracking
  • Inundation tracking
  • Slurry pipeline stability & leakage detection
  • Game counting
  • Surrounding community mapping

Legal

  • Cadastre
  • Property rights definition
  • Change detection
  • Security
  • Incident evidence capture
  • Corridor & boundary surveillance

Community

  • Community relations/marketing
  • Impact reporting
  • Oblique imagery

Other

  • Conveyor belt inspection (thermal)

Flying a quarry point cloud

Case studies & reports

Explore how surveying teams in the mining industry are increasingly employing drones (UAVs) to take measurements and calculate volumes – quickly, safely and efficiently.

Using drones in place of Lidar

When Energizer Resources needed to survey a large graphite mine site in Madagascar, its team purchased two senseFly drones to avoid the expense of airborne Lidar. That just left the issue of disappearing control points to deal with…

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Using an eBee to boost a micro-gravity survey's precision

When MWH Geo-Surveys International conducted a micro-gravity survey of an Omani mine site, the company’s senseFly drone was the only solution its team trusted to produce the high-resolution elevation model the client required.

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Measuring extraction volume in an open pit

Chilean photogrammetry provider WSdata3D used an eBee to calculate volume extraction at one of the world’s largest mines, ensuring operator safety and boosting operational efficiency.

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Accuracy of UAV stockpile surveys vs LIDAR

How accurate is drone surveying for determining stockpile volumes? This report compares UAV and LIDAR imagery to see how they match up.

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Performing quarry volume calculations by UAV

senseFly customer Signpost Surveys of Ireland was engaged by two separate clients to complete detailed topographic surveys of working quarries. Read about these projects in more depth below.

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The sky's the limit for Barrick Gold

Don't miss this Barrick Gold report on its use of drone technology in the Dominican Republic.

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Introducing RPAS into mining operations

An in-depth presentation by Darryn Dow, Chief Surveyor at Territory Iron in Australia, on how his team integrated the eBee mapping drone into their Frances Creek operation.

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Creating a 3D model to measure extraction volume

Swiss consulting firm Mosini et Caviezel used a senseFly UAV to provide an accurate 3D model of its client's quarry, in order to measure extraction volume.

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Mechamoto Systems on using a swinglet CAM

Mechamoto Systems used a swinglet CAM to perform a topographic survey of a proposed new tailing storage site.

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"The return on our eBee investment has been amazing. We saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by using them in place of airborne Lidar on the Molo graphite project."

Eric Steffler, Geomatics Manager
Energizer Resources Inc., Canada
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Eric Steffler, Geomatics Manager

"The sensefly eBee changed the game for us, allowing us to move from being UAV hobbyists into offering professional drone services. We deploy it for many commercial applications, in mining & construction, right around the world. We can deliver highly accurate data sets to customers within days of being on-location, faster, more safely, and more efficiently than previous technology and service providers in these industries were able to provide. This technology has been just wonderful to work with."

Brian Deatherage, CEO
Phoenix Drone Service LLC, United States

Brian Deatherage, CEO

"We currently operate two eBee UAVs, which have completed well over 1,300 flights, so we’ve given these aircraft quite a workout. For us there is no typical project; we undertake work across Australia in plantation forestry, mining, land development, aboriginal heritage, flood prevention survey, insurance, agriculture and natural resource management. Our experience has been very good—the eBee system is easy to use, has proved reliable and its data is well received by clients. At this stage we’ve been unable to find a UAV that is as versatile."

James Rennie, Director
Australian UAV

James Rennie, Director

"The eBee is the heart of my operation, allowing me to offer clients an affordable and reliable service that wasn't previously available in this part of the world. My drone has already logged 182 problem-free flights and has proved durable enough to handle the toughest African operating conditions. The best part? The feedback I receive from clients - they love our cost effectiveness and they love reducing the number of personnel working inside their mining sites."

Theo Wolmarans, Director
ICARUS AT Pty Ltd, South Africa

Theo Wolmarans, Director

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