The Guide to Mine Surveying

State-of-the-Art Mine Surveying

Innovations in mine surveying made possible by state-of-the-art survey technologies have revolutionized mine design and development, environmental and safety monitoring, and volumetric calculation.  For both open pit and underground mines, the efficient collection of massive amounts of spatially located digital data fuels applications in every segment of the mining cycle.

Collecting and evaluating precise spatial data is vital for every successful mining operation.  Employed with either terrestrial or aerial surveying, laser scanning, or LiDAR, delivers a massive amount of geospatial data points.  This data allows unparalleled accurate measurement that far exceeds traditional methods.  Input into software, the data produces an amazing array of maps and models.

Mine Surveys Used for Planning and Design

Surveyors are responsible for a number of factors in regards to mine planning.  For example, surveys using Geographic Information System (GIS) data can be used to create digital terrain maps necessary for mine design and planning, and hyperspectral imaging can locate ore deposits and track their direction.

Several different types of surveys may be useful in planning and developing mines.

  • Mining claim staking involves mapping, placing claim stakes, and filing claims with the appropriate county and BLM entities.
  • Geometallurgical location surveys identify potential ore bodies and evaluate the concentration of deposits.
  • Boundary surveys establish the perimeter of the property for legal purposes and to help understand the space.
  • Topographical surveys yield tools such as bare-earth maps that describe elevations and other features.
  • Environmental planning surveys help determine a mine’s impact on the surrounding natural elements, such as wildlife and groundwater.

Efficient Volumetric Calculation

Accurate volumetric calculation is valuable to several aspects of mining.  Mine surveys can efficiently produce results that save time, money, and man power.

For example, calculating stockpiles by hand is very labor intensive with lots of potential for error.  Modern volumetric monitoring, however, is quickly and easily deployed.  The sheer amount of data produced by one flyover allows for phenomenal precision and results in a smaller margin of error, potentially reducing waste.

In addition to calculating the volume of stockpiles, mine surveying can be used to compare actual ore extraction rates to the predicted output.  Mining surveys can also reliably determine the amount of total excavated material in order to estimate the amount that will be required to backfill a slope.

Environmental Surveying

Various environmental surveys are important throughout the life cycle of a mine.   If not carefully monitored, mining operations can produce significant damage to the surrounding region.

  • Before any construction can begin, the potential impact of a mine must be evaluated and permits secured. Potential threats to endangered species must be considered as well as damage from heavy metals and other toxic chemicals that might leach into the soil or groundwater.
  • During excavation and after mining operations have been completed, the stability of tailing dams that impound toxic muddy wastewater is critical. Ongoing monitoring can prevent disasters.
  • Continuing slope analysis is crucial. Slopes must be monitored for instability and impending failure, as mudslides can produce catastrophic results for surrounding communities.

Because digital surveys are efficient and labor saving, they can be conducted on a much more frequent basis than traditional survey methods allow.

Mining Surveys Support Health and Safety

Health and safety are concerns in every mining operation.  Hazards, such as malfunctioning machinery, exploding dust, gas leaks, instability of rock faces, and chemical hazards can snuff out lives with little warning.  Mine surveys can aid in detecting such risks and solving for them before they become tragic headlines.

Mine surveys can be used to promote safety in other ways as well.

  • Slopes can be monitored for instability and possible failure.
  • Mine road conditions can be assessed for weaknesses caused by heavy machinery.
  • Shaft assessment can be conducted frequently.
  • Mining equipment can be inspected regularly without requiring work stoppage.
  • Laser scanning can be conducted remotely, so no lives are endangered in the process.

Darling Geomatics Has Decades of Surveying Experience

Darling Geomatics surveyors are licensed to conduct mine surveying both above and below ground.  Since 1997, the professionals at Darling Geomatic have paired cutting edge technology with an innovative approach to problem solving to produce accurate results trusted by mine operators around the globe.

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