Tech Trends

New ‘Must-Have’ 3D Solutions for Mine Surveying


Increased efficiency, higher productivity and improved safety are three key goals of every mining operation. Fortunately, continued advances in hardware and software tools are making these goals easier to achieve. Following are three of the most popular new solutions that mines have on their wish list.

1. The All-in-One MultiStation for Fast, Flexible Data Capture

Introduced in June 2013, the Leica Nova MS50 MultiStation, shown in the video above, is a versatile “Swiss army knife” instrument that combines high-precision total station measurements, fast laser scanning, GNSS and imaging technologies, all in a single, easy-to-use solution. Instead of having a specialized instrument for each task, field crews can streamline their workflows by deciding on the spot what type of measurement is best suited to the task at hand. This level of flexibility keeps the coordinate datasets easy to manage. User-friendly field software and automatic point cloud registrations in the field avoids the need to do these tasks after the fact. This enables the office workflows to be streamlined through software that is tailored to the Nova MS50 capabilities.

Additionally, specialized software packages such as GeoMoS 6.0 provide automatic scanning and deformation analysis that is invaluable for slope stability monitoring. When used with the combination of laser scanning and prism monitoring in the Leica Nova MS50 MultiStation, the software provides highly accurate setup corrections, including orientation and translations, and the imaging capability adds yet another information source for better deformation analysis. It’s a powerful combination that can improve safety and boost productivity in the mine environment.

2. The Versatile Mobile Mapping Solution for Improved Technology Utilization

Mobile mapping systems provide a safe, fast and effective way to capture survey data throughout a mine. In the past, these systems have been too expensive and specialized to be practical in a mine; however, recent advances are creating new opportunities for mine operators to take advantage of this state-of-the-art technology. For example, the Pegasus:One mobile mapping solution allows users to make their existing terrestrial scanner mobile for unprecedented versatility. Calibrated video cameras allow for photogrammetric post-processing, and the same NovAtel integrated GPSIMU found in commercial aircraft and professional unmanned airborne systems (UAS) tightly couples high-precision GNSS with robust inertial measurement to provide reliable, continuously available, position, velocity and attitude, even through short periods of time when satellite signals are blocked or unavailable. With this advance, mine operators can easily capture survey data by driving the mine. These digital images can then be utilized in many cross functional areas of a mine, from traditional survey data, to production, to safely inspections and much more.

3. The Copter UAS for Easier, More Cost-Effective Safety Inspections

Although commercial applications in the U.S. for unmanned airborne systems are still awaiting FAA approval, Special Flight Operation Certificates are already being issued to mine operators in Canada. One of the primary applications for these high-tech flying machines is in the safety inspections of conveyor belts, drainage swales, pipelines, the high wall, and even machinery.  Traditional inspections can cost millions of dollars each year and require the time-consuming and complex erection of scaffolding for close-up inspections. With a multicopter UAS like the Aibot X6, mines can easily capture photos and videos for real-time inspections at a substantial cost savings. From these digital images, surveying contour maps can also be generated, and mines are finding many other applications, tasks, and missions for the Aibot X6 as they explore all the possibilities. Watch more here:

These and other technology advances promise to significantly improve mining operations in the near future.

What 3D solutions are on your mine’s wish list? Share your comments below.


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