Tag Archives: mine surveying

RocketDNA Ltd seals first autonomous xBot contract with Calidus Resources subsidiary

RocketDNA Ltd (RKT), a global drones-as-a-service provider, says it has signed its first long-term contract for an autonomous xBot® solution with Keras (Pilbara) Gold Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Calidus Resources Limited.

The contract will see the provision by RKT of an autonomous xBot solution, which includes:

  • Supply and maintenance of one xBot drone-in-a-box surveying system (SurveyBot®). The SurveyBot is a site-ready, integrated hardware system that supports a surveying drone which is monitored by a pilot located at an off-site remote operating centre (ROC). It is built to meet the stringent requirements of the national aviation safety regulator (Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)) and includes DJI drone hardware, communications systems (ethernet, Wi-Fi, cellular & Starlink connectivity), power management system, weather station and CCTV;
  • Remote operation of the SurveyBot from RocketDNA’s ROCs in Perth and Adelaide. RKT will provide a pilot operating under its CASA-approved deployment and operational risk methodology and policies, allowing the customer to focus on data outputs and insights rather than drone flying. RKT leverages significant cost savings from the ability to manage multiple xBots from a single office site with low travel and site safety overhead;
  • Strayos AI software licence to enable automated processing, analysis and reporting for the open-pit operations using the SurveyBot data. RKT operates a commercial partnership with Strayos which provides mining operators with an array of AI-driven data applications that generate operational efficiencies and insights; and
  • RocketDNA SiteTube® data visualisation platform. SiteTube is RKT’s proprietary data visualisation platform, allowing enterprise customers to host & access their data securely on locally-based cloud servers.

The SurveyBot system will initially be deployed at Calidus’ Blue Bar pit, a satellite open-pit operation that is 70 km by unsealed road from Calidus’ Warrawoona gold project in Western Australia and 25 km south of the township of Marble Bar, in Western Australia. The surveys provided will include:

  • Daily surveys of the open pit for drill and blast design, pit conformance reporting, volumetric reporting;
  • Stockpile surveys for volumetric reporting;
  • Daily imagery and video to provide up-to-date situational awareness of the operation to the clients’ off-site personnel; and
  • Ability for live-streaming of video

The overall solution is expected to generate significant operational efficiencies for the customer including:

  • Reducing the frequency of physical surveying activity, which requires significant road travel and on-site time;
  • Leveraging rapid data processing time and AI insights for mine optimisation; and
  • Providing oversight of mining operations to remote senior management

Calidus Resources Managing Director, David Reeves, said: “Calidus is currently commencing operations at various satellite pits that are up to 70 km distance from our main processing facility. The pits are generally smaller in size and do not justify their own survey team on site. The xBot not only allows daily pickups for survey to be completed efficiently, the associated video also allows our planning team in Perth to understand exactly how the operations are progressing and allow for rapid reaction if required.

“We look forward to partnering with RocketDNA and see great potential for this technology on our other sites as they come on line”

RocketDNA CEO, Christopher Clark, said: “We are delighted to announce this first long-term xBot contract. Although we already have other xBots deployed, the long-term format of this contract will allow us to partner with the customer and potentially provide for further specific needs of the site. The components within this specific contract also demonstrate the breadth of our product suite – and how the different components of XBot, ROC, Strayos and SiteTube can be harnessed to provide an overall solution which is cost effective and value adding for the customer.”

The three-year contact (monthly billing) is conditional on RocketDNA gaining area approval by the CASA. RKT has in place broad CASA approval for autonomous and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations, however, under Australian legislation, further authorisation is also required at the project level to attach additional areas of operations to our current approval. RKT anticipates no impediments in achieving this step.

RKT is currently completing the assembly of its first batch of five xBots from in-stock components, one of which has been allocated to Calidus. After safety reviews and on-site preparation, it will be commissioned within the next 3 months, considering the CASA approvals mentioned above.

Exyn Technologies providing speed and safety benefits for mine surveyors

Exyn Technologies says it is helping mines all over the world to become safer and more efficient with the use of its products, reporting on a comparison study made at Northern Star Resources Limited’s Pogo Mine in Alaska that showed the ExynAero is not only more efficient and accurate at mapping difficult places, but that it is also safer for the surveyors involved.

In this study comparing ExynAero, a fully autonomous aerial robot, with traditional CMS methods, the report authors showcased a significant improvement in safety, survey quality and time savings.

Exyn’s fully autonomous robot pairs a rotating LiDAR unit with a flight platform in order to perform cavity mapping surveys within open stopes. This hardware, combined with what is now the highest level of aerial autonomy, Level 4A Autonomy (AL4), allows survey teams to map deeper, more accurately, safer, and faster than before.

Andrew Loomes, Chief Mine Surveyor, Pogo Mine, said: “It is infinitely safer to use…we’re nowhere near the brow now, doing jobs around the corner in some cases. The safety aspect is definitely one of the driving factors to why we purchased the gear.”

Using Exyn technology instead of traditional surveying methods is a very low risk alternative for both surveyors and equipment as it keeps both out of potentially dangerous and unknown situations, Exyn says.

“The quality is unmatched as the unique application of Level 4A Autonomy to pilot the unit doesn’t require line of sight. As a result they can prove areas are between 12-35% bigger than traditional methods because they lack the limitations of traditional methods and have greater capacity to detect things like gas pockets.”

Time wise, it is 45% quicker than traditional methods requiring only 15 minutes compared with the 27.3 minutes taken by traditional CMS, the authors said.

Loomes added: “Even though [CMS] takes twice as long, from a quality standpoint, to get the same data from a CMS would take even longer with more equipment…the data doesn’t even compare.”

Exyn Technologies brings in Brandon Torres Declet for next growth drive

Exyn Technologies has appointed Brandon Torres Declet as CEO to drive its next phase of growth, overseeing all aspects of Exyn and looking to expand its geospatial product offerings to customers worldwide, the company says.

With a career spanning over 25 years, Torres Declet brings an extensive background in the drone industry as a successful entrepreneur, C-suite executive, board director and policy expert, Exyn says. Over the course of his more than 25-year career, he has built relationships with top government agencies and corporations in highly regulated markets making him perfect for this role to help drive Exyn’s growth, it added.

He joins Exyn Technologies from his previous role as CEO of AgEagle Aerial Systems, Inc, a commercial drone solutions provider. Before that, he founded MEASURE, an aerial intelligence company, which was sold to the Aerodyne Group in 2019, where he remained as Chairman of Aerodyne MEASURE. Torres Declet also developed a SaaS platform, Ground Control, which provides drone mission planning, data collection, processing, analysis and intelligence reporting which was sold to AgEagle in 2021.

In public service, he was appointed Senior Advisor to Oxford University’s Centre for Technology and Global Affairs and to the FAA’s Advanced Aviation Advisory Committee by the US Secretary of Transportation. He has also served as Counsel to the US House of Representatives and Homeland Security Committee, Counsel on Capitol Hill, and to the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

“It’s a great time to join Exyn Technologies,” Torres Declet said. “The company is well established and has earned a solid reputation as a market leader in robotics and autonomy. I’m excited to build on this foundation and help drive increased value for our customers. Given my background and experience, I have a strong appreciation for what it takes to take a company, and particularly start-ups, like Exyn to the next level. I look forward to collaborating with the entire team to plan to ensure Exyn’s success.”

Carlson releases new laser scanning system for improved underground void mapping

Carlson Software has released the Carlson C-ALS HD auto-scanning laser system, the successor to the Carlson C-ALS Gyro.

This system sets new industry standards by offering enhanced visual inspection capabilities along with its accurate 3D underground mapping functionality, according to the company.

Equipped with an advanced high-definition camera and 874-lumen spot light on the C-ALS head, the C-ALS HD offers increased visualisation capability with up to 25 m of visibility, Carlson Software claims. Users can visualise in real time as the probe is deployed to spot obstructions and monitor deployment in underground environments. This new functionality provides unparalleled visibility, enabling professionals to identify and analyse potential hazards, structural issues, or areas of concern with the utmost precision and accuracy, the company claims

“The C-ALS has been the gold standard for inaccessible void mapping for more than 25 years,” Nuno Fernandes, Director of Carlson Laser Measurement Devices, said. “Carlson is committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation, and the C-ALS HD is a testament to that dedication.”

Key features of the Carlson C-ALS HD include:

  • A new slip ring drum that introduces quicker and integrated cable deployment;
  • An integrated high-definition camera to provide full HD (1,920 x 1,080) for photo and video;
  • Spot light visibility, which brings 874-lumen LED illumination to the void for added camera visualisation at distances up to 25 m; and
  • New joystick controls, which, when added into the included deployment software, Carlson Scan, provides free-motion control to inspect and locate points of interest.

Carlson, which is celebrating 40-years of innovation and service, says the C-ALS HD is among the list of new releases in 2023.

Delta Drone to provide aerial support to Red 5 at KOTH, Darlot

Global drones-as-a-service provider, Delta Drone International Limited, says it has signed a contract with Red 5 Limited (via wholly owned subsidiary) in Western Australia for drone surveying services.

The contract with Greenstone Resources (WA) Pty Ltd is for three years and has a total contract value of A$1.01 million ($725,581) and annual recurring revenue of A$336,000 (billed monthly). Services are for the King of the Hills Mine (KOTH) and Darlot Mine, both in the Eastern Goldfields.

Red 5 owns and operates the KOTH gold project, a mine that is scheduled to produce 176,000 oz/y of gold over the first six years of its life. Darlot is an underground satellite mine to the KOTH Processing Hub (pictured).

Delta Drone International CEO, Christopher Clark, said: “We are pleased to be officially working with Red 5 and to provide frequent aerial surveying support which can be delivered efficiently and effectively to the business across a number of areas including for open pit mining, stockpile, processing area and for environmental purposes.”

Christian Viguié, CEO of Delta Drone SA, said this was the first major contract the company had signed in Australia, validating the success of its implementation and ability to duplicate the model that made Rocketmine successfully leveraged in southern Africa.

Sandvik, Exyn combine capabilities in new autonomous mine inspection concept

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and Exyn Technologies have furthered their strategic partnership looking at new horizons of mine autonomy with the introduction of the Sandvik Exyn inspection concept.

An autonomous mapping solution that can co-operate with autonomous machines without stopping production, according to Jussi Puura, Research and Technology Development, Digitalization Lead at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, the pair launched the concept at MINExpo 2021, in Las Vegas, today.

Back in March, the companies expanded the strategic partnership they initially signed in 2020, looking to integrate drone-based data processed using Exyn’s on-board 3D mapping technology with Sandvik’s OptiMine® Mine Visualizer solution for analysis and optimisation of underground mining production and processes.

The integration, the pair said, allows mining customers to benefit from comprehensive underground aerial 3D mapping with visualisation that increases overall transparency of mining operations – including for GPS-denied, hard-to-reach, or hazardous areas, or locations that would be time-consuming to survey and inspect using conventional methods.

Exyn and Sandvik deployed this integrated solution at gold exploration and development company Rupert Resources’ Pahtavaara project in Finland, using the ExynAero drone to autonomously create a 3D point cloud of an underground stope. This 3D data was then uploaded to Sandvik’s OptiMine Mine Visualizer and georeferenced to the CAD mine model for further analysis and visualisation.

The companies said back then that it planned to further develop the partnership to integrate more hardware and software systems, and they have now done just that, premiering the new concept at this week’s MINExpo.

The concept works by an operator indicating the area they want surveyed on the OptiMine 3D visual screens, and then ordering that survey. The ground-based machine then starts the assigned mission at a time that is convenient and does not cause any production interruptions.

After deployment and when the wheeled inspection vehicle cannot drive any further, the on-board autonomous UAV is deployed to complete the survey of the area of interest.

When the survey mission is complete, the UAV lands on the ground-based robot and both return to the charging station to await the next mission. The data from both vehicles is then automatically uploaded to the Sandvik Data Management Server, part of the OptiMine suite.

The server processes all data automatically and georeferences it to existing data in the server, using the survey team’s data as ‘anchors’ and ‘ground rules’ for the new data. The data is automatically merged into an updated model of the mine.

In addition to merging and ‘cleaning’ the data, the system can be set up to run automated analysis on the data. For example, automatic reports on change detection, shrinkage detection, road condition, etc can be run after every survey.

The solution results in better planning, increased safety and less production stops, according to the companies.

GeoSLAM expands geospatial mapping solutions to underground mining sector

Global geospatial mapping specialist, GeoSLAM, has expanded its mining offering, building on its reputation in the sector to provide advanced underground mining solutions for production progress mapping, convergence analysis and vertical mine shaft inspection monitoring.

The news follows the unveiling of its automated processing platform, GeoSLAM Connect, which provides users with the flexibility to process their data to exact specifications through a series of interactive customisable script-based workflows. Many features of Connect are particularly useful for the mining sector, including the automatic georeferencing, the company said.

Underpinned by the software, and backed by the company’s expertise in the mining sector, the new innovations will sit alongside the existing solutions already available and in-use across the globe, including GeoSLAM Volumes for stockpile volumetric calculations.

CEO and Founder of GeoSLAM, Graham Hunter, explains: “We’ve worked in the mining sector for a number of years, alongside the industry’s major worldwide players to understand their needs and challenges so I’m delighted to announce our latest offering, supported by our state-of-the-art Connect software, that will continue to bolster our mining offering.

“Our aim is to help mine owners and workers overcome the number of hurdles they face in their day-to-day occupations; improving accessibility to ensure worker safety, speeding up operations and giving mining teams foresight into the changing underground environment by delivering precise and real-time data, as well as keeping costs to a minimum while producing maximum output and driving revenue.”

He added: “These innovations are designed to be operated using our existing ZEB family of scanners and, best of all, the ease of use means they can be used without any prior training. In just a matter of minutes, with no interruption to the mining teams, mine owners can have reliable and accurate data at their fingertips, saving both time and money in what is an already demanding sector.”

The first of its new applications is GeoSLAM Production Progress Mapping – which, when coupled with a ZEB scanner and its own internal co-ordinate system, allows operators the flexibility to make short-term operational decisions on newly-mined production areas in quick time in a ‘mining-to-plan’ process, the company said. Once the data from each scan has been automatically processed and georeferenced using GeoSLAM Connect, it can be uploaded to any compatible third-party software. Operators will be able to overlap collected data and precisely visualise changes of an area over time to compare with project plans – giving mine owners the freedom to analyse, make real-time decisions and avoid production hold-ups.

“Mining has long been viewed as a hazardous occupation, but digital technologies like GeoSLAM’s new Convergence Analysis, however, are reshaping this outlook by providing mine owners with a rapid and cost-effective way to understand the environment while keeping miners safe,” the company said.

Using GeoSLAM’s unique SLAM (simultaneous localisation and mapping) algorithm to create clear 3D visualisations, mine operators will be able to quickly measure rock support – including detecting failure points, the velocity of change, potential slope and areas of displacement – all while remaining at a safe distance, and without the need to disrupt crews, due to the speed of capture.

Completing the trio is GeoSLAM’s purpose-built shaft inspection cradle, built for collecting data during inspections and analysing change. From above ground, it allows users to understand the erosion of a shaft wall, view blockages and identify hanging points for ore in hard-to-reach and dangerous vertical shafts.

Issued as standard with each ZEB sale, its support package, GeoSLAM Care, offers mining customers unlimited access to hardware and remote software support, the latest software releases and access to GeoSLAM Academy; a portal of resources for customers to use including user training, videos and best practice information.

STRYDE and Explor project cuts seismic image survey times in mountainous terrains

A collaboration between STRYDE, a seismic technology provider, and Explor, a geophysical technology and data acquisition company, has indicated seismic imaging surveys in mountainous terrain could become much less onerous in the future.

As STRYDE explains, mountains present a significant challenge for any sector seeking to map the subsurface to determine the abundance of resources, from mining to water management to energy. The steepness and narrowness of mountain paths present a significant health and safety risk and can prevent large teams or vehicles from accessing different locations of the site, in some cases necessitating the use of helicopters to transport equipment.

Helicopters, however, present not only a significant expense and source of carbon emissions, but a considerable health and safety risk. Any technology used in these locations, therefore, must require minimal intervention and enable independent operation, the company said.

The seismic imaging trial STRYDE and Explor embarked on took place on mountainous terrain in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The mountain imaged by Explor was particularly inaccessible, reaching over 2,000 m in height, with the steepest slope gradients exceeding 40°.

“The steep slopes and the presence of large, unstable boulder fields in this site meant that the only way to deploy nodes was on foot,” STRYDE said. “On-foot transport requires a limited weight carried per person to avoid injury. This limited weight means that a large team is required to carry the number of conventional nodes needed to accurately map out the subsurface.”

As such, Explor trialled STRYDE’s Nimble system™ as a receiver in conjunction with Explor’s PinPoint® seismic source to gather a 2D seismic line and confirm the suitability of STRYDE in mountainous terrain.

Due to the STRYDE node’s size and 150 g weight, Explor’s team of three were able to deploy more than one node every minute. The enablement of this small team size also proved crucial with the project taking place between June and September 2020, during COVID 19 restrictions on on-site personnel. STRYDE provided remote support for initial setup and Explor was able to activate and distribute the nodes independently.

STRYDE’s node can continuously record seismic data for at least 28 days at temperatures well below freezing, minimising the need for interaction with the nodes once placed, the company says. Once data had been collected, it took two members of Explor’s team just three hours to retrieve several hundred STRYDE nodes throughout the mountain terrain.

Explor was able to fit all the equipment needed for deployment and recording including both the STRYDE Nimble system and the PinPoint source system into a single pickup truck and 20 ft (6.1 m) trailer. This contrasts with a previous similar Explor seismic study, which had required a 50 ft (15 m) tractor trailer and a truck, plus 18 people, just to transport the system into the seismic camp.

Allan Chatenay, President of Explor, said: “To acquire a 2D line in extremely rugged terrain with just three people is game-changing and a testament to STRYDE’s pioneering system. This technology will change the efficiency of seismic operations.

“The remote support we had from STRYDE – despite all the challenges associated with the pandemic – was excellent. The whole trial was conducted successfully in half the time and with less than 20% of the people power that would typically be needed.”

Mike Popham, CEO of STRYDE, said: “We share a common vision for the future of land seismic, whereby technologies such as PinPoint and STRYDE allow zero environmental impact seismic acquisition.

“We have demonstrated that any site, regardless of terrain, can be mapped with seismic technology with even a skeleton crew. The massive reductions in cost and environmental impact you can gain by eliminating the need for additional vehicles or line clearing can open up the power of seismic imaging of the subsurface to a whole range of industries and applications – from geothermal energy to mining to carbon capture and underground storage.”

Explor has committed to another project using 20,000 STRYDE nodes following the results of this trial, STRYDE said.

Emesent’s Hovermap aids ore pass decision making at Petra’s Finsch diamond mine

Highly accurate point cloud data sets from a Hovermap scan have allowed Petra Diamonds’ Finsch mine engineers to “see” the condition of ore passes for the first time and avoid an estimated five months and R5 million ($350,000) in remediation, Emesent says.

Finsch, in South Africa’s Northern Cape, uses ore passes and underground silos to transfer ore between levels or to redirect ore for load and haul to the surface. Blockages, hang-ups, overbreak or scaling can impact the structural integrity and result in extended downtime and significant remediation costs. Accurate imagery enables mine engineers to gauge the integrity of ore passes and plan timely and cost-effective remediation programs, according to Emesent.

Historically, however, scanning and mapping inaccessible shafts and voids has been a challenge for Petra.

The company’s management sought a means of obtaining accurate visualisations of underground voids, quickly and cost effectively, without endangering the safety of Petra personnel or contractors, Emesent says.

Petra management trialled the Hovermap multiple data capture methods with Emesent partner, Dwyka Mining Services, contracted to carry out multiple scans of an indoor stockpile, ore passes and vertical shafts, and a series of access tunnels and ramps.

Hovermap is a drone autonomy and LiDAR mapping payload. It uses the LiDAR data and advanced algorithms on-board, in real time, to provide reliable and accurate localisation and navigation without the need for GPS.

Dwyka spent a day on-site conducting a series of scans using Hovermap mounted to vehicles, a DJI drone, or lowered in a protective cage. Dwyka delivered point cloud data sets for Petra’s survey team to geo-reference and analyse, within 24 hours. It also provided visualisations of the ore passes, enabling the mine engineers to ‘see’ the condition of orepasses for the first time, Emesent said.

Alex Holder, Group Planning and Projects Lead at Petra Diamonds, explained: “We lowered Hovermap down ore passes, flew the drone into draw points and even scanned our shaft and ramps by fixing the scanner to one of our vehicles. The visualisation delivered exceeded all our expectations. The data captured in one ore pass saved us significant time and effort by confirming it was irreparable. That saved us millions.”

Using Hovermap led to an immediate decision to abandon plans to expend resources remediating a compromised ore shaft. This decision saved Petra an estimated five months and R5 million.

Heinrich Westermann, Mining Engineer at Petra Diamonds, said: “The ability to power and switch the Hovermap payload between the various applications meant that we were able to scan a considerable amount of the mine in one shift. Generally, this was either impossible and, if it were possible, it would take weeks to collect those datasets and months to see the final visuals.”

The data collected by Hovermap has become the basis of a data library for the site. It is augmented regularly and used to inform operational decision making by Petra’s mine planning and survey teams, according to Emesent.

Petra intends to deploy Hovermap scanning technology to map inaccessible locations at its other sites across Africa, Emesent says.

Maptek scanners, software boosts efficiency and safety at Kirkland Lake’s Fosterville mine

Maptek’s underground laser scanners and software have been helping geology and geotechnical engineering teams save time and monitor safety at Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine in Victoria, Australia.

At the underground mine, the geology team use two SR3 laser scanners and the PointStudio software for structural mapping and identifying structures.

“They primarily focus on scanning the ore drive development headings and then analyse the data and do the mapping in PointStudio,” Fosterville Project Rock Mechanics Engineer, Corey McKenzie, says.

The Maptek SR3 is a dedicated underground laser scanner, with a scan window of 130° vertically and 360° horizontally for capturing roofs and walls in tunnels and underground drives.

With fast accurate sensing and tailored mount accessories, the SR3 can be operated remotely from any web-enabled device and combines well with modelling software PointStudio for improving overall productivity and safety underground, Maptek says.

“PointStudio has a lot of neat tools,” McKenzie says. “Smart Query is useful for extracting joint set data, and the Distance for Objects feature can be used for fibrecrete thickness analysis.”

The geotechnical team uses ZEB scanners for convergence checks and it is, Maptek says, excited about the potential of Maptek workflows to streamline and save time in convergence monitoring.

The Workflow Editor incorporates software menu items, command line executables and scripting capabilities with Maptek Workbench tools and custom components to automate processes.

McKenzie says cloud-to-cloud comparison using laser scan data in PointStudio is all about safety.

“We want to know if the walls or backs are moving,” McKenzie said. “If we notice a spot that is starting to deform, we scan it more regularly so we’ve got that constant update of data and can track how it’s moving and the rate of deformation. We can then make decisions about rehabilitation. And we also need to know when our ground support capacity is going to be consumed.”

When PointStudio was introduced at the site this year, McKenzie found it relatively easy to learn, appreciating the visual layout of the options along the top ribbon, Maptek said.

The Fosterville geotechnical team is looking to expand its usage of PointStudio and expects the new scanline mapping tool in the latest version to help rockmass classification, according to the company.

“We’re just starting to explore the geotech/rock mechanics aspects,” McKenzie said. “Maptek is always willing to answer questions.”

The site also recently completed a trial of Maptek monitoring solution, Sentry.

“Now that we’ve tested Sentry and know its capabilities, we’ll be confident down the track if there’s an area that we want to monitor more closely,” McKenzie concluded.