Traditionally used in military surveillance, drones have always been associated with warfare. Now, thanks to new strides in Research and Development (R&D) , drones are commercially accessible and operational in industries beyond military.
In mines, drones are considerably addressing challenges in areas such as health, safety and improving productivity in surface mining. For instance, increassingly, drones are being used to gather information on the slope stability which helps mine operators to institute safety measures and avert disaster. Drones can also be used to monitor illegal mining activity in mines and air quality.
Breaking more boundaries
The scope of applications is potentially wide and will surely break more proverbial boundaries. One of the exciting and potentially game-changing developments is taking place in South Africa, at the University of Witswatersrand (Wits).
Wits is in the process of developing the next phase of a drone-prototype which will allow operators to ‘see’ underground mining operations from safe distances. Funded by South Africa’s Mine Health and Safety Council (MSCH), the project is expected to be completed over the next three years.
Beyond question, once concluded, the findings from the research will be a game-changer for the mining industry, given the industry’s aspirations for zero harm by 2022.