Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Unleash a Waterfall of Knowledge Across the Mining Industry

Edmonton, AB (March 2, 2022) – Quick, what’s the most important factor for mining operations?


And the next most important?


With unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), clients can get it all: Efficiency. Safety. Top level detail. Demonstrating exceptional results within the mining industry, UAVs enable much greater data collection, enhance safety, and improve productivity for a better bottom line.

“With this technology, we can cover exponentially more ground than you can with traditional means, in significantly less time,” says Andrew Hill, GeoVerra project coordinator. “We collect high levels of detailed data without putting anyone in harm’s way—there’s less exposure to hazards in general.”

The Way We Were
Consider the “old school” way: someone on the ground, taking measurement after measurement. “The limiting factor is how much time there is in a day,” chuckles Hill. “And with that, there are compromises in terms of how much detail is picked up, as well as the safety aspect of being in a potentially hazardous environment for hours on end.”

Using UAVs, GeoVerra seamlessly picks up all required information and more—in a fraction of the time. “Basically, it translates to more of the time spent at a computer, picking out those points and manipulating that area to deliver the information the client needs,” says Hill.  “We bring a lot more context and detail to the data, so our client can make a much more informed decision.”

Standards of Safety
There are typical hazards associated with just physically being in an industrial environment—other workers, moving equipment, visibility, and more. Any opportunity to remove someone from that scenario, allowing them to do the job from a safer spot, is far more desirable. “There’s not as much looking over the shoulders, so the operators can focus on the task at hand without distractions,” explains Hill.

Timelines, Compressed
At GeoVerra, it’s common for UAVs to survey large areas for reclamation work—typically 100 acres or more. All of it must be surveyed and approved by an engineer.

“The traditional means of walking around on foot is extremely time prohibitive, especially when the client is depending on a fast turnaround time,” says Hill. “Often, they don’t have a lot of headway on their end. The reality is they’ve come across a problem, they need a solution, and it’s this data that will help them make that decision. UAVs are that gamechanger, getting what the client needs in their hands as soon as possible.”

Getting Techie
And while a collection of survey points can form that picture, do they really tell the whole story?

“When we collect that information plus have high-def imagery that goes along with it, the client becomes a fly on the wall,” says Hill. “They understand everything going on. It empowers their decision-making, whether they’re off-site in an office in Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto.”

Different types of sensors can be attached to the equipment, including high-definition cameras, thermal imaging, lidar, and more, depending on client needs. Regardless, accuracy is always top-notch.

“As professionals, we have access to top-of-the-line technology—not what the public can purchase online or at a gadget store,” says Hill. “We stay on top of every latest development.”

While almost anyone can purchase a drone themselves, Hill establishes the importance of getting a professional to do the job. Since flying and data collection are their sole focus, UAV pilots have in-depth skills others don’t and can capture information in an extremely efficient manner. “We have a robust flight operations manual created by a team of seasoned industry experts which establishes the basis of our program. It outlines everything from pilot competency to flight planning, fleet management, and flight operations. Not only does this ensure compliance with all applicable regulations, but it instills confidence in our pilots – that they are sufficiently trained and experienced to carry out the job right the first time,” affirms Hill.

Dollar Driver
Driving efficiency through technology has an obvious benefit in financial cost reduction. “UAVs delivering more precise data and analysis in a far safer way is a hugely-motivating factor, so it being economically viable just brings it to another level,” says Hill.

“Really, all the customer needs to care about is the data,” says Hill.  “We take care of everything else.” It’s exactly why many GeoVerra clients wonder how they ever worked without UAVs. If you’re after heightened safety, profits, and productivity too, give us a call today.

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