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Use of drones to survey mines begins

Mining investments still major economic contributor"

The mining industry is quickly moving into the future as it looks for ways to cut down on costs. Following a heavy increase in automation systems for underground machinery and heavy haulage surface vehicles, the next area for development looks set to be focused on the air.

Drone surveying systems have real potential as a technology to speed the initial exploration process, largely due to operation limits. Several drones can be operated at once, and far more cheaply than traditional surveying methods.

One company, Adelaide-based DroneMetrex, is leading development for the mining industry. The company has recently seen an investment from mining technology company Maptek to further the development of surveying drones.

"We've built a mapping system from the ground up, everything is designed for the drone from the start," said Tom Tadrowski, DroneMetrex managing director.

"Other companies are building drones and then putting mapping systems in them, but no-one's ever going to be able to do it properly that way," he said.

The company has recently developed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) mapping platform called the Topodrone-100. Mr Tadrowski says the drone is significantly more advanced than other UAV mapping systems currently available.

"We design the whole system to be the same as DGPS, with real time, kinematic surveying … we're getting elevation accuracy of 25mm, but we've actually been getting better than that,"

Drones are attracting significant attention from mining industry giants, with Accenture seeing real potential in the technology. Nigel Court, mining program and project manager for Accenture, says he feels drones are far more efficient and safer than using onsite surveyors.

"The possibilities for the application of drones in mining are seemingly endless with new uses coming to light every week and more widespread utilisation being reported across the industry," Mr Court said.

The next few years are likely to see the number of automated technologies climb, in addition to the development of UAV surveying systems. Potentially, a UAV system will even be able to assist in the tracking of automated vehicles.

Interconnect Systems has been operating in the industrial market for more than 20 years. It provides electrical interconnect products and solutions, including cable and wire harness manufacture.

For more information on the best backshells, connectors and cable harness solutions, contact Interconnect Systems on 1800 812 214.

By Philip Shelley

Interconnect Systems



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