Bingham Canyon has 30 FAA-certified drone pilots running four to five flights a day

The mining industry has been following Rio Tinto for the past few years to see how the leading global mining company will incorporate drone technology into its operations. At the Bingham Canyon Mine, Kennecott now has 30 FAA-certified drone pilots running four to five flights per day.

The company states: “Through drones, employees can access locations that were previously unreachable due to safety concerns. Drones allow employees to monitor safety conditions and potential hazards from a safe distance. But drones also represent a changing tide in the mining industry, leading to a future where mining is much more technological than in past decades.”

Drones collect large volumes of high-quality data for exploring, surveying and 3D mapping. Drone technology processes maps and data much more quickly than traditional methods, allowing for almost instant analysis. The technology can connect in real time with other mining operations technology, allowing employees to make decisions more quickly and with better information than in the past.

Ultimately, Rio says it’s the Kennecott pilot and crew behind the drone who add value to the mining process, not the drone itself. Andrew Carey, Kennecott’s Director of Drone Operations, explains: “Drones are simply another tool now available to our employees making their jobs safer while collecting data in a more efficient and complete manner.”

The ten drones used at the Bingham Canyon Mine are a result of a four-year effort by Kennecott to boost employee safety and provide enhanced capabilities of surveying one of the world’s largest open-pit mines. As multiple flights are performed throughout the day, each pilot performs a series of safety checks assessing airspace, local weather conditions, airworthiness of the drone and any other potential aerial hazards. Drones provide a visual record of the mining operations that minimises risks to workers and demonstrates Kennecott’s commitment to the workforce to put safety first.