“Just five years ago, it was rare for mining companies to contact DroneXperts, a center of expertise that professionalizes drone integration using robotics and artificial intelligence. Today, the phone keeps ringing, so much so that this sector will represent 30% of the company’s turnover within two years.
SAFE AND ACCURATE
In order to know the quantities of materials that have been blasted, the mines have integrated photogrammetry into their uses. Normally these readings are taken from a GPS or laser ground station, but these methods are far from perfect. “One of our customers told us that to scan a pile of aggregates, using a GPS can take two hours in the field, but the activity is risky. The surveyor must find the height points on the piles. The risk of accidents is high. The ground laser is very precise, but requires three to four hours. In addition, it is restrictive, because the circulation of trucks transporting the minerals must be stopped”, explains Mathieu Falardeau, business representative at DroneXperts. While the takeoff of the drone “can be done in a safe place away from the transport of the ore”, says the expert.
The advantages of the drone ? Its high accuracy of 98%, its speed of use – a survey takes 30 to 40 minutes – and the reduced risk of accidents.
Topographic field survey by LiDAR, mapping of gases in areas after blasting and environmental emergency services are other possible applications of this tool which is mainly used in open pit mines. “The drone is less popular for underground mining because GPS positioning doesn’t work underground. LiDAR control must be used. It’s kind of like bat guiding, but with lasers. The interest underground is however undeniable because it is possible to increase the number of readings, obtain 3D images of the rock walls, determine the depth of a cavity, prevent and know the exact location of a landslide, etc. “says Mathieu Falardeau.
In order to put into context, the service and product offer of DroneXperts makes it possible to better target the needs of our customers, our specialists advise users on value-added technologies and make it possible to find arguments on the return on investment, in particular the cost and return on investment.
As stated in the article, Mathieu Falardeau, however, believes that the return on investment is quick due to the reduction in operating costs. “The savings in information, time and money are considerable. We have a better knowledge of inventories, so we manage better and we are therefore more profitable. The applications of the drone are unlimited and exploitable throughout the process (exploration, development and operations), not to mention the rapid assessment of dangers. »
Mathieu does not forget to end on an important note concerning the future of the drone in the mining sector, namely the lifting of the ban on visual theft in certain contexts, with the distance between the workshops and the mine, the drone could actually be used as transport supply,parts delivery and, why not, meal shipments to employees by air.