Autonomous drone maps Finland gold mine
Self-contained UAV maps underground mine in under 4 days Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – March 4, 2020
Last updated 6/27/2020 at 5:26am
Rupert Resources partnered with Exyn Technologies to map 30 underground mining stopes in three days using the world's first industrial-grade fully autonomous drone at the past producing Pahtavaara gold mine in central Lapland of northern Finland.
Since its acquisition of the Pahtavaara mine in 2016, Rupert has undertaken extensive new exploration and geological modelling, utilizing the substantial amount of historical drilling data and 35 kilometers (22 miles) of underground tunneling that exists for the deposit.
The revised geological interpretation of the existing mine identified that Pahtavaara possesses a significantly larger footprint than previously considered with a style of mineralization similar to deposits hosted in other greenstone belts. Such as the Abitibi in Canada and Norseman-Wiluna in Western Australia, both of which hosted more than 100 million ounces of gold.
Since its discovery in 1985 by the Geological Survey of Finland, Pahtavaara passed through many hands and operated between 1995 and 2014 before becoming 100% owned by Rupert Resources.
In its short life, the Pahtavaara mine area produced roughly 450,000 oz of gold and the potential could be even greater.
As of mid-2018 Rupert had announced a re-appraisal of the regional geological setting of Pahtavaara, highlighting prospectivity for hosting further orogenic gold deposits and in spring 2019 new incidences of gold mineralization had been discovered 25 kilometers (16 kilometers) from the site of the Pahtavaara mill.
With these findings Rupert Resources then needed to plan for a potential restart of operations by estimating tonnage previously removed from the mine, as well as calculating the remaining ore in largely restricting areas.
With the help of Exyn's autonomous drones, Rupert was able to produce highly detailed 3D models of the mine in Central Lapland which was otherwise completely inaccessible to traditional cavity mapping tools or even manually piloted drones.
Exyn's fully autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle mapped 30 stopes in three days with a single drone. Additionally, another model of their robot was mounted atop a vehicle to scan all access drifts, which together with the stope maps, provided a complete mine map in just under four days.
"Rupert is actively seeking new technologies where we think big gains can be made in terms of safety, productivity, and accuracy," said Rupert Finland Managing Director Jukka Nieminen. "Exyn achieved accurate assessment of the volume of remaining stopes at Pahtavaara with an unprecedented level of detail, and obviously the use of remote technologies means that this was achieved with a greatly reduced degree of risk. We have no hesitation in recommending this technology."
Exyn's drones are built on their exynAI platform which enables UAVs to fly intelligently without a human pilot using a multitude of high-tech sensors and artificial intelligence-based software. The system operates without the need for GPS or external communications and is deployed as a combined functioning package of hardware and software.
This platform allows the deployment of a single drone, or multiple robots that can navigate and adapt in complex environments, in real-time. This means that for the first time, industries such as mining, logistics and construction can benefit from a single, integrated solution to capture critical and time-sensitive data in a more affordable, more efficient and most importantly, a much safer way.
"Our mission with Rupert presented some of the most difficult and seemingly impossible challenges to navigating, analyzing, and assessing a mine--which therefore makes it exemplary in demonstrating the heights of Exyn's capabilities. Our AI-based software and state-of-the-art sensors were able to get the job done quickly and safely, proving once again that no exploration task is impossible for Exyn drones," said Raffi Jabrayan, director of markets and industries, Exyn Technologies.
This partnership between Rupert and Exyn is not the first time a mineral exploration and tech company have collaborated with the use of drones and AI, however it shows that it is becoming vastly popularized and the go-to solution to tackling difficult and hazardous zones that would ordinarily be abandoned.
With the successes of this joint venture the way only further opens for mining to become one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world and throws open the door to revisit further historical sites that were otherwise inaccessible without the use of UAV to reassess old discoveries.
More information on the use of drones by the mining sector can be read at Drones set new heights for mining industry in the Jan. 15 edition of Metal Tech News.