Mining

The mining industry has been quick to adopt UAS technology in their day to day operations. The sand and aggregate mine industry is well suited to UAS because of the need to gather mine output data at a high temporal frequency. Joseph Hupy of the Menet Aero team was a pioneer in leading efforts to lower overhead costs in the mining industry through his applied research, and has since continued to explore how UAS can serve as a valuable tool within the mining industry. Through this research, and working with the mining industry on addressing their needs, the Geospatial team at Menet Aero has identified serveral key areas where UAS plays a role in mining operations:

  •  Exploration Surveys: Geologists often rely on the best resolution imagery they can find when exploring an area for future mining operations. The high resolution imagery delivered from a UAS allows them to detect fault lines and rock deposits where traditional imagery previously could not.
  • Safety Monitoring: UAS allows for an overview of operations to ensure that equipment is parked where it should be, and that proper safety buffers are in place. What previously took ground based inspections hours to complete can now be done in mere minutes
  • Stock pile and excavation inventory monitoring: When gathered, processed, and analyzed properly, the imagery gathered from a UAS can be used to calculate volumetrics. Through applied research efforts, the Menet Aero team was able to confirm, in several instances, that their volumetric calculations were within .01% of what the mine processing facility reported.
  • Cut and fill analysis: Very much related to volumetric calculations, cut and fill analysis looks at a given area with a time component, and can be used to determine how much material was removed or deposited at a given location.
  • Erosion Monitoring and Mitigation: Because of their extraction based nature, the bare earth at many mining facilities is subject to increased risk of erosion. This not only can be a head ache to manage when dealing with every day mining operations, it can also put the company at risk for following environmental regulation to stem sediment runoff into local water bodies. The high resolution data associated with UAS can be used in geospatial analysis that allows for placement of erosion barrriers in the right location
  • Vegetation Remediation: In most mining operations, the overlying soil and vegetation is removed as over-burden in order to get to the desired bedrock with the valued material is located. Following these extraction based activities, the overlying soils and vegetation are replaced as part of an overall remediation effort. Monitoring this restoration often relies on ground based surveys that are, at best, expensive and innaccurate. UAS can be used to gather data to assist in remediation efforts at a fraction of the cost that produces accurate, quantifiable data that is easy to interpret. Beyond that, this data allows for presentation of this data to governing bodies where results of remediation efforts are often part of a regulatory effort.

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