Applications and Advantages of Using Underground Drones in the Mining Industry

It is interesting to know how vast and varied the fields where commercial drones are now used. The mining industry is one.

Mining is a risky occupation, and it involves complex processes. So using underground drones in the mining industry provides many advantages. As DJI Enterprises, in an article, points out, here are some:

• Generating comprehensive, high-quality volumetric information with millions of measurement points;

• Helping to streamline operations since fewer people can cover larger areas;

• Providing automated flight planning options and seamless processing, minimizing human and operational errors. – Continue reading here.

The use of drones in mining is beneficial indeed, for drones improve the overall efficiency of large mine site and quarry management by providing accurate and comprehensive data detailing site conditions in a very short time. They also support better coordination among teams onsite and internationally, offering dynamic oversight of all operations.

In addition, the following are some benefits mining companies get from using drones, from the same source above:

  • Highly accurate measurements
  • Faster and easily-repeatable mining surveys at low cost
  • Improving worker and site-safety management

What are the current trends governing the use of underground drones in mining? An article published in late 2019 noted five trends:

  • Monitoring and Inspection
  • Automatic Surveying and Mapping
  • Stockpile Management
  • Haulage Road Optimisation
  • Tailings Dam Management
  • Read here for more details

See also this review of Applications of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Mining from Exploration to Reclamation

At the same time though, despite the advantages and benefits and the array of underground drone applications in mining that are available, there are also challenges. A study was conducted to look for solutions to these challenges in using drones in mining. Here is part of the abstract of the study:

The application of drones in underground coal mines can be challenging. Harsh underground environments pose many obstacles to flying drones. The confined space, reduced visibility, air velocity, dust concentration, and lack of wireless communication system makes it extremely difficult for an operator to fly a drone underground. Furthermore, access to unreachable and dangerous locations in underground mines is practically impossible for a drone operator.

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