How drones are radically improving mining inspections


January 30, 2023




Mines are hostile environments for humans. As a result, mining companies are turning to mining inspection technology that prevents humans from being exposed to dangerous situations. 

Mining personnel are using indoor drones to collect high-quality visual data inside stopes and other unstable areas.

They’re using this data to create 3D models and sparse point clouds of mines, which help them better understand the conditions inside the area and ultimately improve their ability to make determinations about safety, stability, and remaining ore.

These improvements represent a potential step change for the mining industry, allowing mining operations to become safer, more efficient, and much more cost effective.

Here are six key benefits that indoor drones are providing to mining operations today.

  • Safety
  • Savings
  • Reduced Downtimes
  • Access
  • High Quality Visual Data
  • Data Localization


By using an indoor drone to inspect mining equipment, inspectors don’t have to enter confined spaces, be exposed to falling debris or traces of noxious fumes, or stand on scaffolding at potentially dangerous heights.

An indoor drone like the Elios 3 can fly through and around the stockpile feeder, mills, flotation cell, and even the crusher, collecting high quality visual data as it goes—data that is usually better than the data that could be collected manually.


Here are three ways that indoor drones help mining operations realize significant savings:

Beumer1. By providing high quality visual data inside a stope, drones can help mining personnel identify remaining ore as well as other geotechnical areas of interest that might otherwise be missed. 

2. Extraction – Protecting Expensive Machinery
By providing detailed insights into the conditions inside a stope, indoor drones can help keep muckers safe from falling debris, representing big potential savings for mining companies.

3. Processing
Reducing Downtimes Inspections of processing equipment used in mining operations are not only dangerous, they’re also expensive, mainly because of the downtimes they require.

“The economic benefits of using the Elios for mining equipment inspections are clear. Since the mine doesn’t have to stop production for over an hour, the company sees an immediate savings of between $100,000 to $150,000 in production costs.” – Eric Romersa, Co-Founder of WS Data 3D


Reduced Downtimes
Reduced downtimes also mean greater efficiency for mining operations in general. Because indoor drones can quickly collect visual data inside of assets that are hard to access physically, they can be used for quick spot checks. Being able to quickly and regularly get visual data on the condition of an asset can lead to improved maintenance procedures overall, ultimately resulting in reductions not only of scheduled downtimes but also of unscheduled downtimes, which might take place due to equipment failure.

Indoor drones can provide access to visual data collection that is almost impossible to achieve using any other tool or method.

“The Elios 3 is something you can take o the shelf and fly underground in one of the harshest environments that we work in. You can capture quality footage with the Elios 3. It’s safe to interact with, and it has a nice cage that protects it from hurting people, objects, or itself.” - Ryan Turner, Geotechnical Engineer for the Barrick Gold Corporation


High Quality Visual Data The Elios 3, for example, provides high definition 4K video and high quality images, along with stabilization and unique lighting features to let pilots hone in on important details in the imagery they capture. These images can provide insights for operations, engineering, survey, and safety departments within a mining operation, which can then be used in the ongoing development of the stope. Drone data can also be used to create 3D models, which can further help mining personnel to understand the conditions inside of a stope.


Data Localization
Inspector 4.0 is a new software from Flyability made just for inspection experts, which allows inspectors to localize their inspection data so they can know the exact location of a given point of interest. For mining operations, data localization can be used to help personnel return to the specific place where remaining ore was seen during a flight, or to a geotechnical area of interest or a potential hazard that requires further investigation.

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