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South Africa boasts mineral riches that range from gold to copper but in 2014, the South Africa mining and quarrying industry contributed less to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Although the goal is to produce the most output at the lowest possible cost, the mining industry has become increasingly dependent on technology to drive, manage and deliver large-scale opencast projects.  Mines are starting to consider a more cost effective, and faster mean of delivering accurate data.

Australia was the first country to regulate remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), or drones as they are more commonly known, with the first operational drone used in 2002. Rio Tinto, a mining giant in Australia, jumped on the opportunity to explore new means of delivering data, through the use of drones. To date, they have been using the drones to measure stockpile inventories and monitor geo-technical issues within mines, especially around pit walls where putting people in the situation is either physically impossible, expensive, or perhaps even dangerous.

South Africa has joined countries like Australia and Canada and has finalised regulations around the commercial operation of drones. It will be in effect as of 1 July 2015. That makes the South African government in the 5% of countries in the world to finalise this form of regulation.

What does this mean for the mining industry in South Africa?

The clear advantage of using drones is the quality and consistency of the data provided. Simply put, it’s not about spending millions on the drone technology and software, it’s about finding a provider with the means to deliver what you want, when you want making sure it is the more affordable option. Mining companies can now join the likes of Rio Tinto by using drones to conduct everyday mining activities that are high safety risks for miners and surveyors.

Where else can drones be useful in the mining industry?

  • You can map steep inaccessible inclines with limited risk,
  • Compile optimised blast designs,
  • Oversee security risks and capture evidence of any incidences,
  • Manage pit and stockpile changes and
  • Monitor surface stability from a remote location.

The possibilities are endless and RocketMine is willing to explore them all. For more information on how to find a data solution that best suits your requirements, click here.