Drones help im­prove safety in min­ing

Pilbara News - - News - Court­ney Fowler

■ 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.

Pic­ture: Rio Tinto

Min­ing gi­ant Rio Tinto has suc­cess­fully in­te­grated UAVs into its min­ing oper­a­tions in the re­gion.

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