Drones In Mining
Drones are often seen as a revolutionary or futuristic tool that will soon become the norm in a number of industries.
What some people fail to realize is that drones, or UAVs, are already an important tool in certain industries. Mining, for example, has long seen the potential of adding a fleet of these unmanned vehicles to their arsenal.
They not only provide great data collection equipment and save a lot of time and money, they also help to improve safety.
Canadian miners are now turning to drones such as the eBee
This is certainly the case in Canada, where the mining industry takes a whole of vast areas of the often treacherous landscape.
Here companies, such as GroundTruth Exploration in Dawson City, have looked into the use of drones for mining for many years and are really starting to see their true potential.
Drones are offering teams precise data in record times – with the potential to cut time in the field from 18 months to 1 month – and there is also the benefit of live images, greater communication of data and lower costs.
The drone of choice for this company is the eBee, a $35,000 UAV with an 80 cm wingspan that can be fitting with cameras and sensors, thrown in the air and left to cover the landscape for 40 minutes at a height of 100m.
40 minutes may not sound like a long time, but it is more than enough to charter the drone along its course and pick up all the relevant information.
The equipment can provide high-resolution images, topographical information, and calculations on 3D volumetric information – all of which leads to better maps and greater accuracy.
Not only has this eBee proven to be more effective and efficient, it is a much safer approach than relying on human workers.
Safety is another primary concern that is being aided by the use of these UAVs
The problem with working out in the mining regions of Canada is that it is not the most hospitable of a landscape.
There are high altitudes, steep slopes, cold temperatures and poor weather, all of which can inhibit a workers ability to safety survey an area and carry out their work.
The eBee, however, has been able to operate at these heights and in wind and rain. This allows workers to stay safe but to still operate the tools needed to retrieve their data.
The other advantage here is the fact that workers only have to enter potentially dangerous ground if they know that it will be of benefit.
There is no need to physically carry out an exploration mission in new territory if a drone can go out and survey it.
If the data is promising, then the team can proceed. This approach is safer and much less invasive.
Drones are changing the way miners thing about their practices and could save lives
Part of the reason for this advanced use of drones in mining in Canada is the lack of regulation compared to the US.
All operators need is a Special Flight Operation Certificate from Transport Canada and they can work a drone, providing they maintain visual contact.
Some still feel that planes are the most effective mapping tool in larger areas, like these Canadian mines, but the drone still has potential.