Why use mining drones?

Modern mining operations are turning to fixed-wing drones to boost their survey efficiency and on-site safety while reducing costs.

Mine surveying teams or geologists can easily conduct more regular surveys over large areas while increasing visibility to topographic data across the entire operation.

Maximize site workflows

Current operational data needs to be at your fingertips through every stage of your workflow.

Photogrammetry is a highly accurate and cost-effective way to conduct worksite surveys resulting in photo-realistic 3D models or “digital twins” of mining operations, earthworks projects and more to better inform your decision making.

  • Stockpile volume calculations 
  • Haulage road design optimization 
  • Traffic management
  • Bench and bench face monitoring 
  • Tailings reservoir design and management 
  • Water accumulation and extraction 
  • Environmental monitoring 

Proven ROI Worldwide

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What are drones used for in the mining industry?

Mining drone solutions have various applications in the industry. They all have in common the ability to help reduce quarry and mining operations costs, time and risks over terrestrial-monitoring methods. Drones help mining companies be more efficient and increase their ROI by providing accurate and high-precision data—quickly.

These are some of the mine surveying actions to which drones have proved to be more effective. 

Quarry management  
Mine surveying drones can provide deliverables in a matter of hours and require less investment than ground survey equipment. Frequent data collection allows better monitoring of site occupation, soil conditions, and traffic management for a better forecast. 

Stockpile measurement    
Companies that support mining explorations with fixed-wing drones save time and reduce operational human risks while calculating complex volumes with great precision. Stockpile monitoring (to provide weight and volume data) and stockpile inventory are keys in a pit. 

Slope monitoring  
Checking slope stability with a fixed-wing drone regularly and taking care of warning signs on time can prevent catastrophic failure accidents. While keeping the mine team safe, they can still make data-driven decisions regarding the movements of the slope. 

Water management 
Mine water management with a fixed-wing drone allows companies to improve their operational performance by controlling water supply, balance, storage, conditions, and adverse hydrological changes through mapping outputs. 

Inaccessible areas inspection
Quarry and mining exploration can be long and strenuous for land surveyors. However, UAVs reduce these risks by mapping inaccessible areas faster. With a fixed-wing mapping drone deployment, mine staff can spend more time safely inspecting the data outputs.

What types of datasets can you get from mining drones?

During flight, the senseFly fixed-wing drone sensor captures high-resolution images that are later process and stitched together -in what is called photogrammetry- to obtain georeferenced maps used for quarry and mine drone inspection, stockpile management, and safety improvements, among others.   

Depending on the camera and the processing software employed, you can obtain the following mapping outputs:  

Orthomosaic map  

A highly detailed 2D representation (X, Y) of the site pinned to a geographic position. These accurate orthomosaic maps are precious to mining companies to monitor site occupation and measure distances between points.  

Map formats: geoTIFF (.tiff), KML tiles (.png/.kml) 

Digital Surface Model (DSM)  

DSM maps take 2.5D information to give an accurate elevation representation of the mining site. This detailed model captured with a drone is valuable for water management, measuring the pit’s depth, and monitor slope stability.  

Map formats: geoTIFF (.tiff) 

3D mesh map  

A three-dimensional texture map (X, Y, Z) that displays the site’s surfaces, walls and edges with high precision. This 3D mesh output is helpful for the mining industry to inspect inaccessible zones, model vertical faces, and detect issues beforehand.    

Map formats: Wavefront (.obj) 

Point clouds  

Point clouds maps comprise millions of individual points featuring X, Y, Z geospatial coordinates and an RGB value. The mining sector uses them to calculate complex stockpile volumes.   

Map formats:.las, .laz, .ply, .ascii 

Contour lines  

Topographic maps take X and Y coordinates from the aerial drone data to generate precise contours intervals. The mining industry benefits from these contour line outputs for slope monitoring.  

Map formats: .dxf, .shp 

  • Stockpile volume calculations  
  • Haulage road design optimization  
  • Traffic management  
  • Bench and bench face monitoring  
  • Tailings reservoir design and management  
  • Water accumulation and extraction  
  • Environmental monitoring  

Modern mining operations are turning to fixed-wing drones to boost their survey efficiency and on-site safety while reducing costs. Mine surveying teams or geologists can easily conduct more regular surveys over large areas while increasing visibility to topographic data across the entire operation.

Whether you’re optimizing the management of your quarry, pit or aggregate operation, senseFly’s eBee X and eBee Geo provide access to accurate geospatial data—faster and more efficiently than using terrestrial surveying equipment alone.  

How do you perform stockpile inventories with drone data? 

In mining and aggregates, it’s all about the numbers  

How much material is sitting out in your stockyard, how much going to processing and how much needs to be excavated? Accurately measuring your cut and fill volumes can answer these questions and are important to every stage of managing the operation.  Accumulating errors can be costly both financially and in resources such as extraction planning. 

Drones are incredibly helpful for capturing volumetric calculations used in end-of-month reporting.  And better yet, you can now capture daily or weekly measurements of materials including valuable ore material or tailing waste material without disrupting mine productivity.

This ability provides an exponential increase in the efficiency of your current reporting methodology.  

Accurately measuring pit and stockyard volumes  

In a single flight, you can quickly capture and create precise 3D stockpile models and highly accurate volume measurements to estimate how much tonnage is in your stockyard.   

In addition to generating precise 3D models for making measurements, Pix4Dmapper photogrammetry software and Pix4Dcloud Advanced are ideal for stockpile measurement because of their ability to customize base surfaces. Well-defined base surfaces are important to obtain an accurate volume measurement. Pix4D took this into account and their software provides 6 different base surface-defining options in its volume management module including an option for users to import their own base surface.  

With these solutions, you can provide real-time updates on production progress, forecasts, stockpile sizes and composition. Mine surveyors can generate cut/fill maps to log material movement over time while ensuring the accuracy of estimates and reporting.  

Compatible with your industry software

Orthomosaic raster

geoTIFF (.tiff), KML tiles (.png/.kml)

Compatible with

Digital surface model (DSM)

geoTIFF (.tiff)

Compatible with

3D mesh with texture

Wavefront (.obj)

Compatible with

3D point cloud

.las, .laz, .ply, .ascii

Compatible with

Contour lines

.dxf, .shp

Compatible with