Drones help improve safety in mining
■ Rio Tinto aviation experts have identified the immense potential of unmanned aerial vehicles to improve the safety and productivity of mining operations across the Pilbara.
In a recent trial, UAVs were used to carry out a variety of tasks including site exploration, equipment inspection, geotechnical monitoring and thermal camera imaging.
Rio Tinto Technology and Innovation executive Greg Lilleyman said drones had already been successfully integrated into mining operations in the region.
“We’re using drones to monitor our sites and inspect equipment, tasks that have traditionally presented safety risks for our people, taken up time and disrupted our operations,” he said.
“Other innovative uses we are finding include tasks like monitoring remote turtle nesting sites and spraying weeds as part of our environmental programs.
“Information will be the single biggest differentiating factor between the mining operations of the past and those in the future, and drones can produce a wealth of infor mation to allow us to make better decisions.”
Mr Lilleyman said in the future drones could be used to monitor geotechnical issues in difficult to access areas and to inspect vast stretches of infrastructure like power and rail lines.
“We’re constantly thinking outside the box to imagine how UAVs can be integrated into our mining operations to make complex tasks safer, quicker and cheaper, as well as working with regulators to meet their requirements,” he said.
Mining giant Rio Tinto has successfully integrated UAVs into its mining operations in the region.