How Are Drones Making the Mining Industry Safer?

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In light of the rather frightening collapse at the Lily Gold Mine earlier this month, the issue of safety has been thrown into sharp focus. Only days before, the industry was celebrating the improvement of its safety record with an 8% drop in fatalities in 2015.

It’s an important issue and mining companies are constantly exploring new ways to tackle the dangers inherent to their industry.

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, is making a positive impact on the issue of safety. Back in 2002 Rio Tinto, an Australian mining company, grabbed the opportunity to explore the use of drones in mining. Since then, many other countries – including South Africa – have realised the importance of drones in many sectors, and have sought to regulate their commercial use.

While drone use is significantly lower than the cost of using helicopters or airplanes, they do come with a pretty hefty price tag. The UAV itself can be pricey, but most often it is the payload and the associated ground equipment which carries the biggest cost burden.

However, considering their practical uses in the mining industry, it looks like the drone is here to stay.

To date, drones have been used:
• To carry laser scanners or tachymeters and create 3D topographic models
• For plant inventory
• In stockpile measurements
• To establish geological deposits
• To generate ground plans, sections and perspectives
• To provide planning guides for new sites.
• To monitor geotechnical issues within the mines
• For taking soil samples or delivering spare parts
• To produce high-resolution and distortion-free images

In fact, much of this data is gathered without putting people in a dangerous or physically impossible position. Giant strides from a safety perspective.

With equipment this valuable, it is imperative that mining companies utilise insurers with an in-depth understanding of this technology.

We are excited by the advances in technology which help to keep our miners safe. And therefore we are thrilled to offer full-service drone cover to the mining industry to support them in their valued business.

We invite you to call us directly and let us answer all your questions on our comprehensive drone and ground station cover.