Glimpse of mining future unveiled at PDAC
Exyn, Sandvik merge autonomous drone, mining technologies Metal Tech News – March 8, 2021
Last updated 3/11/2021 at 4:24am
The future of automated underground mining – where drones self-navigate through a labyrinth of underground mine workings and send back high-accuracy 3D data that can be used to guide autonomous mining equipment – is closer than you think.
Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions (formerly Sandvik Mining and Rock Technologies) and Exyn Technologies Inc. offered Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention attendees a glimpse of the mining autonomy horizon in a video that shows their combined technologies in action.
Sandvik, a Swedish company at the vanguard of mining automation and digital mining solutions, and Exyn, an award-winning pioneer of aerial drones capable of navigating complex environments without the need for global positioning system guidance, recently forged a partnership that is rapidly merging their technologies to deliver higher levels of safety and efficiency to the underground minescape.
"By offering world-class software and technology, we have given customers the ability to map areas underground they could never before reach," said Exyn Technologies CEO Nader Elm. "Our end goal is to be an integral part of fully autonomous mining operations and I'm confident that through our partnership with Sandvik, we're one step closer."
Equipped with Exyn's powerful ExynAI software, which can mesh multiple data streams from a payload of sensors and equipment, the company's ExynAero drone has the ability to self-navigate into underground environs beyond the reach of GPS – returning with maps of areas that are difficult, hazardous, and time-consuming to investigate with conventional techniques.
More information on Exyn and its technologies can be read at Exyn unveils next gen drone technology in the October 28, 2020 edition of Metal Tech News.
This data, already processed with 3D mapping technology aboard ExynAero, can now be integrated with Sandvik's OptiMine Mine Visualizer.
Providing a powerful 3D model of underground mines, Visualizer integrates with Sandvik's other OptiMine management tools for optimizing underground hard rock mining production and processes.
Exyn and Sandvik recently deployed their integrated drone mapping and visualization solutions at Rupert Resources Ltd.'s Pahtavaara gold mine in northern Finland.
A past producing underground mine, Pahtavaara has 35 kilometers (22 miles) of underground mine workings from previous operations.
Rupert has outlined 474,000 ounces of gold in unmined extensions of the Pahtavaara deposit and recently identified a previously unknown trend of mineralization that could expand the deposit ahead of a new era of mining. Accurate maps of this mine will assist in underground exploration and a potential restart of operations at this gold mine.
An ExynAero drone flew itself down into the mine and created a 3D point cloud – a dataset of points in space that represent the shape of an object in three dimensions – of a mined area at Pahtavaara.
The 3D data of this stope, which was processed with ExynAI-powered mapping technology aboard the drone, was then uploaded to Sandvik's OptiMine Visualizer and georeferenced to the CAD (computer-aided design) mine model for further analysis and visualization.
"This step in our partnership with Exyn is critical," said David Hallett, vice president of business unit automation at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions. "Our teams have been working closely together to ensure the connection between Exyn and Sandvik's systems would be seamless and easy for operators to use. When this feature gets rolled out to the market as part of OptiMine, it will allow our customers to analyze Exyn's high-resolution, aerial maps in OptiMine."
These maps may soon guide AutoMine Concept, a fully autonomous electric-powered underground loader equipped with the latest technologies Sandvik has to offer, as it traverses into the future of underground mining.
More information on AutoMine Concept can be read at Sandvik reimagines the underground mine in the September 30, 2020 edition of Metal Tech News.
Sandvik and Exyn plan to continue their avant-garde thrust to modernize the mining industry through fully autonomous operations that take advantage of each company's industry-leading digital mining and autonomous aerial robotic technologies.
"We're very proud to expand our partnership with Sandvik and to deliver the key benefits of safety and operational efficiency to all the humans involved in the mining industry," said Elm.