How to use a drone in mining?

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, commonly called drones, enter the world of geodesy ever faster. We don’t deal with a curiosity or a technology of the future, instead we notice how companies take advantage of measurements performed by drones. One of the companies which offers orthophotomaps using drones is Fotomapy – the leading service provider on the Polish market in photomapping. One of the fields where drones are being used in mining.

In June 2014, Geoprojekt ordered a photogrammetric air raids for the mine “Obora”, near Lubin, in Poland. The mission was done by EasyMap UAV produced by Trigger Composites, which offers a very good sensor and takes hundreds of photos per square kilometer. Then a Swiss package Pix4D Mapper was used for the photogrammetric processing of the pictures taken. Thanks to this software the pictures gave, apart from an orthophotomap, a very detailed point cloud – similar to the one we can obtain from LIDAR. The processing used 19 photo points and 7 control points obtaining average square errors on X and Y axes below 3 cm and on the Z axe below 13 cm. Such accuracy, with a high resolution reaching 5 cm, allows to calculate dump volume as well as the volume of pits, and when we compare these to the previous measurements also the volume of the dug output.

– EasyMap UAV with Pix4D Mapper can significantly facilitate and accelerate work in open-cast mines. We dispose of the greatest experience in performing such difficult measurements in Poland. – says Tomasz Maik, the CEO of Fotomapy Ltd.

– We addressed the company Fotomapy ordering aDigital Surface Model for the sand mine ”Obora” in order to evaluate the volume of the mineral mined to calculate the exploitation charge. During the 3-hour measurements taken with EasyMap drone, employees of Fotomapy collected over 1300 pictures and after a few days they delivered a point cloud and an orthophotomap. – says Adam Karol from Geoprojekt.

Based on the measurements ordered, the company Geoprojekt performed the sections of escarpments for the evaluation of slopes’ stability, vectorised the orthophotomap and prepared a road map of the mine and, most importantly, they calculated the volume of the mineral mined in order to consecutively calculate the exploitation charge. The calculations indicated a very small difference between the commercial books and the volumes measured – below 1%. All the maps, the orthophotomap and the Digital Surface Model prepared for the customer were handed and admitted to the Central Map Stock of KGHM Polska Miedz (The biggest polish copper mine and smelter company).

– From our point of view, the greatest value of the measurements performed with EasyMap drones is the new quality of area mapping. The level of details of the report is impressive for customers. – added Adam Karol from Geoprojekt.

For many people linking small aircrafts and huge pits can be surprising, but the possibilities of measurement given by the use of flying robots are extremely useful for the mining industry. As any new technology, the unmanned aerial photogrammetry slowly becomes ever more significant in terms of area measurement. In a short time, thanks to companies such as Trigger Composites, Fotomapy and Pix4D, the use of drones such as EasyMap will be part of our everyday life.

Both Trigger Composites and Fotomapy companies will be present at Intergeo in Berlin. We invite you to meet us and take a look at our UAVs. Our stand number is: C2.065. See you in Berlin, 07.10.2014 – 09.10.2014.