|Sibahle Malinga reports that mining companies are turning to drone or UAV technology to revamp their operations and rethink their cost structures. The mining industry has become the latest industry to embrace drones, which are used for everything ranging from mapping to mineral exploration to tracking stockpiles.|
This is according to Gregory Donaldson, chief flight instructor and chief pilot at drone pilot training centre UAV Industries, who explains drones have quickly taken off in the local mining industry in recent months, potentially making it the fastest growing industry in drone adaptation.
Since the regulations were introduced in July last year, drones quickly became popular within the film and entertainment industry, this was followed by the agricultural sector, although these two sectors indicate the highest numbers in drone adaptation, however the fastest growth they see at the moment is from the mining sector.
They use the drones to fly over an area of heaped coal, sand and other resources used in the mines, the cameras are used to view the stock pile for stock measurement. In the past, the stockpiles in the mining industry were measured by engineers either manually or by using GPS coordinates, which can be a time-consuming and menial task, he points out.
Within three of the four training schools in the country, there have been around 50 pilots trained for using drones in mining since the beginning of the year, and there are continuous phone calls coming in inquiring about drone licensing and training for mines, he reveals. Adrian Schofield, ICT veteran and director and vice president of IITPSA, says drones are relatively new and due to their affordability and adaptability, drone commercial use should be expected to increase across all sectors as drone manufacturers and vendors look for potential customers.
In mining, drones are used mainly for photography, videography and delivery of payloads (dore?).
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