The Use of Drones in Mine Safety

A recent episode of CORESafety TV – the online video program from The National Mining Association – explored the benefits of using drone surveying equipment, like the Microdrones mdMapper3000DµoG, in providing heightened safety in mining operations. It’s an important topic, as the Association reports that every CORESafety mining company has a drone program of some type in its field operations.

In particular, the episode highlighted the benefits of an active drone program, featured and interview with Freeport McMoran’s Steve Wininger on the company’s own drone program, specifically some of the work with the mdMapper3000DµoG, and dohe into CORESafety’s Module No. 6, which covers emergency management. The video is available to view below:

The Benefits of an Active Drone Program

Drone technology provides a wide variety of benefits for active mining operations, including:

  • Keeping miners safe and out of harm’s way as much as possible, particularly during surveying and assessment of dangerous environments.
  • Cutting the costs of exploration significantly due to the elimination of human labor.
  • Elevating mining operations’ ability to collect more robust, actionable data safely and more efficiently than ever before.

Drones fulfill a range of roles for mining operations, and a drone program can assist in mapping deposits, surveying, exploring for minerals, monitoring volumes of key resources, keeping track of equipment, executing search and rescue operations, and more.

The mdMapper3000 is featured in the CORESafety Drones in Mining video

How Freeport McMoran Leverages a Commitment to Innovation in Drone Use

Wininger, a Corporate Lead Pilot and Instructor for Freeport McMoran, said the company’s drone program has grown tremendously since its beginnings in 2015.

That program now features around 150 pilots, including 75-80 in North America, in the company, highlighting its commitment to taking advantage of the benefits of a robust drone program.

The company’s structured approach to drone use, which includes experts like Wininger, site leads and more, allows it to evaluate and test new innovations, get a holistic look at how they might open new possibilities for the organization, and get them into the hands of the company’s operators.

The company now uses drones, including the Microdrones mdMapper3000, to film blasts, perform surveys, inspect equipment, engage in high-quality photogrammetry, and more.

“One of our workhorses here,”Wininger explains, “is really the Microdrones md4-3000.  With this aircraft, we were actually able to petition the FAA for permission to fly above the regulated 400 feet of altitude. We’re actually able to fly up to 1,100 feet, which helps us cover way more ground and be faster with our processing. Any time you put one of these aircraft into the air, you’re taking a human out of danger’s way.”

Module No. 6: Emergency Management

An effective strategy for safety and health management is a proactive one – in other words, it’s aimed at keeping incidents from occurring, not responding to those that do occur.

Still, a robust emergency management system is necessary for incidents that do occur and plays a big role in overall mining operation safety.

Emergency management should include:

  • Emergency Prevention
  • Effective Planning
  • Emergency Resource Identification
  • Emergency Response Training
  • Coordination and Communication with Key Groups (Families, Media, Government)
  • Recovery Strategies

To learn how drone surveying equipment from Microdrones can elevate mining safety and efficiency, CLICK HERE to speak with one of their friendly representatives.