Tag Archives: mine surveying

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.

Freespace Operations’ Callisto to soar higher in mining drone space

Victoria, Australia-based Freespace Operations has recently customised its drone technology to address some of the challenges associated with modern mining, resulting in the production of its Callisto Modular Industrial Multirotor.

The Callisto is an autonomous modular and multipurpose industrial drone with benefits for the resources sector including increased productivity and worker safety.

Freespace Operations Managing Director, Ken King, said: “The Callisto was designed from the ground up to be an industrial system prioritising function over form,” he said. “It’s overall levels of performance and capability exceed all other comparable systems currently available.”

King says the Callisto completes aerial surveying using advanced LiDAR sensor technologies previously only available with manned aviation. It can also deliver cargo across sites and lift product out of mines autonomously.

“The result is increased productivity because tasks can be completed quicker, with precision repeatability and without the need to place people in risky environments,” he said.

According to King, the drone system offers most benefit at sites that are remote and face logistical challenges like poor weather, undulating topography, dense vegetation and poor access.

“The Callisto has been designed for typical mine sites, so safety, durability and serviceability are built into the system,” he said. “At IMARC Online we’ll be demonstrating the Callisto to companies that undertake LiDAR aerial surveying and require long-range cargo delivery.”

IMARC Online is on now until November 27, 2020.

Exyn Technologies gains Australia mining market exposure with C.R. Kennedy pact

Exyn Technologies, a pioneer in autonomous aerial robot systems for complex, GPS-denied industrial environments, has announced Australia company C.R. Kennedy as its first international distributor.

C.R Kennedy is one of the largest providers of survey equipment for mining and government needs in Australia, Exyn says.

The ExynAero (formerly the Exyn A3R), an autonomous and self-piloting aerial drone, was the product that helped open the door to the relationship, according to Exyn.

Clinton Harn, Head of Marketing at C.R. Kennedy, said: “When discussing with our surveying customers, the real need was a product that would map and navigate their underground caverns, much like what they saw in the blockbuster movie ‘Prometheus’.

“The ability to make science fiction a reality is very appealing, inspiring, and, most importantly, possible – that much was clear after Exyn first demoed their product to us.”

Nader Elm, CEO of Exyn Technologies, said: “We’re excited to be expanding into the Australian market with this relationship with C.R. Kennedy to help a whole new set of customers. The opportunity to continue to advance the technology in the mining sector with this new market is important for the continued evolution of mining and our business.”

In one of its earliest use cases, Exyn flew to Bulgaria to assist Dundee Precious Metals (DPM) in mapping its underground gold mine.

Current CMS would have required hours of setup to map a single stope, according to Exyn. “Equipped with Exyn’s then-A3R, however, DPM surveyors were able to map six stopes over the course of circa-three days, logging 123 flights in total, capturing accurate, high-fidelity data sets ready to be loaded into DPM’s mining software,” the company said.

Nord Gold begins IT system transition to Deswik platform

Nord Gold says it has started re-platforming its mine planning IT systems to Deswik, the Australia-based mining-focused global technology company.

The move follows a successful three-month test period and will see the company integrating its operating environment from the numerous software applications currently in use, Nordgold said.

“Deswik provides specialist solutions spanning software, consulting, and training,” the gold miner said. “To date, Nordgold has implemented strategic mine planning, pit design, load and haul simulation, survey modules, and is also considering using Deswik’s drill hole optimiser module.”

Nordgold expects to roll out the new software platform in a three-year staged approach. Throughout the test period, the Deswik software has been adopted by the company’s head office, the Gross and Tabornoe open-pit mines in eastern Siberia, the Suzdal underground mine in Kazakhstan, and the Lefa mine in Guinea. Migration to the Deswik platform is expected to be completed at the Bissa and Bouly mines in Burkina Faso in 2021, with all remaining operations following shortly thereafter.

Louw Smith, Nordgold’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “At Nordgold we pride ourselves on knowledge sharing and collaboration across the business, despite the differences between our individual operations. The Deswik platform is a perfect fit as it caters for both underground and open-pit mines, which was crucial for our diversified business.

“We have been particularly encouraged by the software’s ability to circumvent our legacy systems’ constraints, while still supporting older data formats for backwards compatibility.

“As the implementation phase has proven, Deswik’s software allows for optimisation of resources to generate guidance reserve shapes, pit design, scheduling of designs, and optimising schedules. Moreover, schedules can be used to generate equipment simulation to investigate the effectiveness of mining fleet and assist in optimising both operating and capital expense allocation.”

Emesent builds mining connections as Hovermap autonomy takes off

Having recently helped DJI’s M300 drone fly autonomously underground (through its Hovermap Autonomy Level 2 (AL2) solution) and signed an agreement with Deswik to provide surveyors and planners with more accurate data from inaccessible areas, Emesent has been on a roll of late. IM put some questions to CEO, Dr Stefan Hrabar, to find out more.

IM: First off, if no communications infrastructure is in place at an underground mine, how do Emesent’s drones stream a 3D map of the environment back to the operator’s tablet?

SH: Hovermap is smartly designed to operate beyond the communication range of the operator. The operator does not always need to see a live map since Hovermap is navigating by itself. The user can place a waypoint beyond the current limits of the map, and beyond line of sight and communication range. Hovermap self-navigates towards the waypoint, avoiding obstacles and building the map as it goes. Once it reaches the waypoint (or if the waypoint is impossible to reach), it automatically returns back to the operator. The map data is stored onboard Hovermap and when it returns back to within Wi-Fi range the new map data is uploaded to the tablet. The operator can then see the new areas that were mapped and place a new waypoint in or beyond that map, sending the drone back out again to explore further.

IM: What results have you so far received from using AL2 for Hovermap at mine sites? Were the results PYBAR got from trials at Dargues and Woodlawn in line with your expectations?

SH: Last year’s trials at Dargues and Woodlawn showcased some great outcomes for the PYBAR team, including the ability for Hovermap to capture valuable data using Autonomy Level 1 (AL1). The team saw great potential in the technology, leading to the purchase of two systems for their use. Earlier this year, AL2 flights were conducted at Dargues during the final pre-release testing phase. Even the first stope at Dargues that was mapped using AL2 highlighted the benefit of the system over traditional CMS (cavity monitoring systems). A large area of overbreak was identified in the Hovermap scan. The same stope had been mapped with a CMS, but this area was not visible from the CMS scan location so the overbreak was not identified.

A number of mines have been using AL2 to map their stopes and other areas beyond line-of-sight. With AL2, they can send Hovermap into places that previously would have been inaccessible, enabling them to obtain critical data in real time without risking the machine or personnel.

The AL2-based stope scans have been more detailed and complete (lack of shadowing) than ever before. A beyond line-of-sight flight down an ore pass was also conducted recently, with Hovermap guiding the drone down 120 m and returning safely to produce a very detailed scan.

The high level of autonomy provided by AL2 also allows remote operation of the drone. We recently completed a trans-continental demo, with a customer in South Africa operating a drone in Australia using our AL2 technology and standard remote collaboration tools. The remote operator in South Africa was able to use their laptop to experiment with the technology from the other side of the world, sending Hovermap exploring down a tunnel.

This is a taste of what’s to come, with drones underground being operated from the surface or from remote operation centres thousands of kilometers away. This will remove the need for skilled personnel on site, and reduce the time spent underground.

IM: What had been holding you back from achieving AL2 with drones/payloads? Is it the on-board computing power needed to that has been the issue?

SH: Flying underground where there is no GPS, the space is tight and there are hazards such as mesh, wires, dripping water and dust is very challenging. We overcame many of these with AL1, which makes it safe and easy for a pilot to operate the drone within line-of-sight (Hovermap provides collision avoidance, position hold and velocity control). AL1 has been deployed for 18 months with many customers around the world, clocking up thousands of hours of use. This helped to improve the robustness and reliability of the core flight capabilities.

Emesent CEO, Dr Stefan Hrabar

AL2 builds on this mission-proved base capability to provide additional features. AL2 allows the system to fly beyond line-of-sight and beyond commination range. This means it’s on its own with no help from the operator and needs to deal with any situation it comes across. There are many edge cases that need to be considered, addressed and thoroughly tested. A significant amount of effort was put into these areas to ensure Hovermap with AL2 is extremely robust in these challenging environments. For example, the drone downwash can kick up dust, blinding the LiDAR sensor. We’ve implemented a way to deal with this, to bring the drone home safely. Other considerations are returning in a safe and efficient way when the battery is running low, or what to do if waypoints cannot be reached.

IM: How do you anticipate your partnership with Deswik impacting the mine planning and survey process? Do you see this reducing the amount of time needed to carry out this work, as well as potentially cutting the costs associated with it? Have you already carried out work at mine sites that has proven these benefits?

SH: Our commitment is to help mining companies increase safety and production while reducing costs and downtime. We do this by providing surveyors and planners with more accurate data from inaccessible areas, allowing them to derive new insights. Our partnership with Deswik means we’re able to provide a more comprehensive end-to-end solution to the industry.

We see this as a very natural partnership that will improve the overall customer experience. Hovermap excels at capturing rich 3D data in all parts of the mine (whether drone based, hand-held, lowered down a shaft on a cable or vehicle mounted). Once the data is captured and converted to 3D, customers need to visualise and interrogate the data to derive insights. This is where Deswik and other mining software vendors come into play. They have powerful software tools for planning, survey, drill and blast, geotechnical mapping and a host of other applications. We’re partnering with these vendors to ensure seamless integration between Hovermap data and their tools. We’re working with them to build automated workflows to import, geo-reference, clean and trim the data, and convert it into formats that are suitable for various tasks.

Surveyors at Evolution Mining’s Mungari operation have been using this new process in Deswik. Previously they needed a third software tool to perform part of the workflow manually before importing to Dewik.CAD. The intermediate steps have been eliminated and others have been automated, reducing the time from more than 30 minutes per scan to five minutes per scan.

IM: Since really starting to catch on in the mining sector in the last five years, drones have gone from carrying out simple open-pit surveys and surveillance to drill and blasting reconciliation platforms to reconnaissance solutions carrying out some of the riskiest tasks in underground mining. In the next decade, how do you see them further evolving? What new tasks could drones carry out to improve safety, cut costs or increase productivity?

SH: Emesent’s vision is to drive forward the development of ‘Sentient Digital Twins’ of industrial sites to future-proof the world’s major industries, from mining to energy and construction. These industries will be able to move to more automated decision-making using high-quality, autonomously collected data across their sites and tapping into thousands of data points to make split-second decisions about potential dangers, opportunities and efficiencies using a centralised decision-making platform.

We see our Hovermap technology being a key enabler for this future. Drones and other autonomous systems will become an integral part of the mine of the future. Drones will be permanently stationed underground and operated remotely, ready for routine data collection flights or to be deployed as needed after an incident.

Hovermap is already addressing some of the biggest challenges in mining — including safety and operational downtime. It improves critical safety to mines, keeping workers away from hazardous environments while providing better data to inform safety related decisions such as the level of ground support needed. This then feeds into better efficiency by helping mines to more accurately calculate risks and opportunities, aid decision making and predict situations.

Hovermap can significantly reduce downtime after an incident. For example, it was used to assess the level of damage in LKAB’s Kiruna mine after a seismic event. More than 30 scans were captured covering 1.2 km of underground drives that were not safe to access due to fall of ground. In another case, one of our customers saved around A$20 million ($14.6 million) after an incident, as they could use Hovermap to quickly capture the data necessary to make a critical decision.

IM: In terms of R&D, what future payload developments are you investing in currently that may have applications in mining?

SH: We’ll keep adapting our Hovermap design to suit new LiDAR improvements as they are released. More importantly, we’ll improve the autonomy capabilities so that even more challenging areas can be mapped with ease. We’re also adding additional sensors such as cameras, as these provide additional insights not visible in the LiDAR data. Our colourisation solution is an add-on module for Hovermap, which uses GoPro video to add colour to the LiDAR scans. This allows the identification of geological and other features.

Emesent’s Hovermap to provide Deswik with complete underground mine picture

Emesent has partnered with leading software developer Deswik to, it says, enable mining companies to incorporate high-quality data captured in inaccessible locations into their mine plans and surveys.

Emesent is a leader in drone autonomy, LiDAR mapping, and data analytics. Founded in 2018 through a spin out of CSIRO, Emesent has since built a reputation for delivering high-quality data capture in the mining, infrastructure, survey and mapping industries, it said.

The company’s 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.

“This feature makes it ideally suited to map hazardous or underground environments where traditional data capture methods are difficult and dangerous,” the company said.

Deswik, meanwhile, is a global consulting and technology company delivering efficiency-focused solutions to all sectors within the mining industry. Its mine planning and management platforms are used in over 500 mine operations around the world.

The two organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to integrate their solutions to provide a more comprehensive solution to the resources sector, Emesent said.

In the first instance, a co-designed, semi-automated workflow has been created to import Hovermap data into Deswik’s design and solids modelling platform, Deswik.CAD. This workflow enables users to translate the Hovermap data within minutes, creating usable surfaces, solids and point clouds for as-built surveys, volume reporting and design updates, Emesent said.

“The data from Emesent’s Hovermap scanner can be imported into Deswik and visualised using any of the attributes that have been captured in the scan,” Stephen Rowles, Deswik Survey Product Manager, said. “The scan can be filtered, modified, and clipped to suit the user’s requirements before being processed in one or more of the dedicated functions for point clouds.”

Emesent CEO, Dr Stefan Hrabar, said the two companies were committed to working together to help mining companies increase the value of their models, by providing surveyors and planners with more accurate data from inaccessible areas.

“We’re excited about collaborating with another market-leading technology vendor in the resources sector,” Dr Hrabar said. “Integrating our respective solutions will assist customers to boost productivity and improve outputs.”

Deswik Partner Manager, Patrick Doig, said recent global events had piqued customer interest in technologies that allowed technical teams to collect high-quality data without the need to be physically present on site.

A partnership between Deswik and Emesent empowers their mutual and future customers to simplify processes, gain additional efficiencies and make value add decisions to their operations, Doig added.