Drone based stockpile management for mines

Managing stockpile inventory is one of the biggest challenges in the mining industry. The key to a well-administered mining company is to have an objective analysis of the ongoing process. The traditional ground survey technology though found to be very precise, is time-consuming and expensive. UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) photogrammetry, alternatively, provides an efficacious technique for mapping and aerial volumetric calculation of stockpiles.

Before the drones were introduced, measuring stockpile volume was a labor-intensive job. The surveyors had to physically climb on the stockpiles with GPS equipment to do so. The derived estimation could be erroneous as they manually take multiple data points and map the stockpile’s size to calculate the volume. Contrary to this traditional method, UAV eliminates human effort needs and accelerates operational efficiency.

The Wi-Fi enabled drone flies over the stockpile area, outlined by the surveyor, and seizes the high-resolution data on its system. The data is then transformed into a 3D model and sent to the manufacturer’s cloud system. This combination of aerial and terrestrial photogrammetry is a low-cost alternative compared to manned aircraft, as it reduces both, man-hours and resource consumption. Also, unlike the traditional method, it doesn’t demand for a tripod setup or vehicles with bulky equipment, further reducing the expenditure.

Drones can construct an accurate terrain model of an open mine and the obtained highly précised geospatial data helps the company take better decision. Since drones can be deployed frequently, it cost-effectively monitors stockpiles. It keeps a regular check on how much material has been removed from the stockpile, as removing them after a certain period of time is necessary. This reduces the surveyor’s efforts of manually doing so.

The mining sector is now inclining towards drones for mapping and monitoring stockpiles as it comes with added benefits of safety, lower cost, reduced labor and faster processing.