Aerial imaging costs are coming down and helping mining companies manage inventories, map mine sites, and improve worker safety. This is the third in our three part series on technology and the mining industry.
Mining companies are using sensors to unlock data to optimize operations in new ways. Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are driving a similar trend at mine sites, creating newly available data that can be analyzed to allow operators to run businesses smarter.
As drone technology has become cheaper and more reliable, aerial imaging is being used to better manage inventories, track reserve depletion and site reclamation, and manage mine sites in the short- and long-term.
As we’ll discuss in this research brief, satellite imaging costs could also decline to the point where low-cost satellite imaging proliferates across the industry. These newly available data sets allow mines to better align production to demand, track reserves, and better manage work sites.
Inventory management is one of the primary benefits of mine site drones. At a typical surface mine, inventory, either finished materials or intermediate ore, is piled up around the site in the open air. Estimates of the size of these piles were previously obtained through on the ground surveys or manned flights, both of which are constrained by cost and operator availability.