An understanding of the spatial and temporal variations of surface moisture content over a heap leach pad is essential for leaching production and to achieve a high ore recovery. The current leach-pad monitoring and data-collection practice remains highly labor intensive and exposes technical staff to cyanide solution, a hazardous material. To address these challenges, we propose using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with thermal imaging sensors to remotely obtain image data with high temporal and spatial resolution for monitoring the surface moisture distribution over heap leach pads. A field study was conducted over a sprinkler-irrigated heap leach pad at El Gallo gold mine in Sinaloa, Mexico, and the acquired data were used to generate moisture distribution maps of the heap leach pad’s surface. The created moisture maps provide direct visualizations of surface moisture variation over the surveyed area. Such graphical results are effective tools for inspecting heap-leaching operations.
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration, https://doi.org/10.1007/s42461-020-00332-4