4 Reasons Why Long Range Drones Should Be Used for Open-pit Mining Operations

The key advantages of using long range drones for open-pit mining


The Earth’s natural resources are becoming increasingly more difficult to access with time, and hence, it is necessary to develop new technologies to overcome such difficulties. This is where long range drones come to play an important role in open-pit mining. Here are 4 reasons for why drones are beneficial for open-pit mining operations:

1. Remote Data Collection

Drones can fly and collect data safely and quickly over remote areas that are otherwise difficult to access. This data (e.g. imagery, videos, point clouds) can be then sent to users in real-time for analysis and surveillance.  A strong communication link between the drone and ground-station is key, particularly for long range drones and for those that require communication with multiple ground stations and receivers. Solar cells can be used on a long-range drone to increase flight time to up to 12 hours. With the right software, real-time automated analysis (e.g. 3D point clouds, topographic surveys and stockpile estimations) can be performed, allowing for decisions can be made on the spot.

2. Efficient Mining Operations

When long range drones are used, large scale aerial field surveys can be performed over an area of several kilometres. Data collection that normally takes weeks can be reduced significantly, thus increasing productivity, particularly in remote areas. In addition, airborne data collection avoids the time needed to move around pits that is required with ground-based surveying methods. The use of high-resolution cameras on autonomous drones allows for high-resolution 3D maps, for example, the mapping of quarries and landfills within centimetres, to be created a lot faster and more efficiently than previously, improving analysis and decision making,

3. Reduces the Required Manpower

With the use of long range drones for open-pit mining, the number of personnel required for operations is reduced. In addition to data collection, drones can be used for a wide range of tasks, such as delivering spare parts for machinery, taking soil samples and monitoring safety and machinery. Mining staff can hence focus on core tasks at hand. This also holds true for any automated data mining and analysis features performed by the drone software. Safety is an important issue for mine workers, long range drones reduce risks of workers on-sight by reducing the time that personnel need to spend on-site. 

4. Cost Efficient

The majority of the costs of drones lie in the purchase or rental fee of the long range drone system. However, as a result, fewer man hours , the fact that there is no longer a need to purchase aerial imagery from external sources, accurate data, long range operations and large data sets all help to reduce costs. In addition, the use of drones avoids the extra costs required with alternative communication systems, such as satellites and other systems that require more infrastructure and are prone to interference.

In summary, with benefits such as reducing costs, increasing efficiency and exceptional long-range and remote data collection and communication abilities, drones are an excellent tool for open pit mining. Furthermore, the frequent use of drones comes with an extensive rise in the amount of data collected, therefore it is important to be ready for the required data analysis and data management from this influx of data.