How Drones are Changing Mining
History shows us how technology has changed the nature of work and the technological strides in the drone sector has been nothing less than impressive. It is hard to argue against the claim that drones are becoming ubiquitous. Like so many other industries, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are transforming the mining industry. Let’s discuss how drones are changing mining.
For many of us when we hear the word mining, we automatically think of danger. Some of us know of workers who have been injured, and have even died, as a result of having worked in mines, especially coal mines.
Drones have made some of the following contributions in the all-important safety factor:
- Safety in the mines where the quality of air can be easily monitored.
- Safety surrounding the mines where there was blasting.
- Safety in the roads surrounding mines by improving roads around the mines.
- Safety by ensuring that areas are clear before a blast.
- Safety by detecting irregularities in the infrastructure.
- Safety by inspecting overhead cranes, towers and roofs of tall buildings to be avoided during blasting.
- Safety by inspecting flare tips around the clock.
- Safety by monitoring the health of injured people until help arrives.
- Safety by immediately reacting to various events.
- Safety by providing rescue equipment.
Production is another indispensable value in the mining industry. With the help of specific electromagnetic sensors, drones are now able to gather geological information to help geophysicists to identify, and better approximate, the location and presence of minerals, oil, and natural gas. Instead of using planes for survey work, miners are now using aerial robots fitted with military-grade cameras to provide real-time aerial footage and 3D maps. Data makes it possible to calculate resources through mapping a mining area which has enabled the industry to gather more information about mining sites than ever before.
With special features on the UAVs, they are able to supply spare parts and transport tools and lubricants required for maintenance or repair work.
Because stockpiles are by nature irregular in shape and typically exhibit craters, estimating their volume accurately by traditional methods is very difficult and costly. Such methods include climbing up and down stockpiles trying to dodge moving traffic. Drones, however, can easily and accurately provide aerial images of a mining site, including its stockpiles.
We can also review compliance to design against mine plans and understand where they need to make changes to improve safety or boost productivity.
Oil & Natural Gas
The oil and natural gas industries require sprawling and complex infrastructure that can be very difficult to monitor, but aerial images of oil rigs, for example, enable personnel to perform safety checks from land. Because offshore oil rigs are extremely tough to maintain because of their locations–many miles from shore–they find a welcome answer with drones. What other resources are available that can rapidly reach hard-to-reach areas and monitor pipelines, oil fields as well as oil rigs? In addition, drones make it possible for engineers on shore to look for safety problems, detect oil leaks, and patrol their rigs for any sign of trespassing.
In addition to safety and productivity, drones are popular because of their usefulness in exploration. Any successful industry must grow and that requires exploration of the earth for new sources of minerals, oil and gas. Because drones are able to carry lasers and infrared sensors attached to them, they can conduct surveys of terrain and get a more accurate idea of where they might find deposits of energy sources.
When it comes to the future of the mining industry, drones will increasingly matter as more and more business people realize the potential for the use of drones in this industry.
What alternative tools are there in this industry, as well as in so many other industries?
What other tools are as versatile, easy to use, safe to navigate, emits as little pollution, and is as cost-effective as drones?