How Drone Surveying and AI are Revolutionising the Mining Industry

July 2, 2024

Written by AUTHOR NAME

The mining industry has long been a driver of innovation, constantly seeking ways to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance safety. In recent years, two technologies have emerged as game-changers in this quest for progress: drone surveying and artificial intelligence (AI). RocketDNA, a leader in data and automation solutions, harnesses these technologies to offer unparalleled insights and efficiency in mining operations. 

The aerial insights provided by drones have already begun to transform the way mines operate, offering accuracy and speed in surveying and mapping vast mining sites. But it's when you combine these data insights with the processing power of AI that the real magic happens.

The integration of AI into drone surveying in the mining industry can unlock unlimited benefits, from automated data analysis and real-time monitoring to enhanced safety protocols and optimised resource allocation. The advancement in drone and AI technology provides us with an exciting new era in surveying in the mining sector. This potent combination is bringing rapid change to the industry, and it's an investment worth making for any forward-thinking mining operation.

What is Drone Surveying in Mining?

Drone technology quickly gained popularity in the remote-controlled aircraft and hobby industries, but it was only a matter of time before it evolved to business applications. The addition of sophisticated AI software has expanded the scope of applications for drones in the business and industrial sectors.

This evolution is particularly noticeable in mining. Equipped with advanced sensors, drones capture precise data to create detailed 3D models of mining sites. This technology allows companies to track changes over time, identify potential issues early, and make strategic decisions to boost efficiency. RocketDNA's SurveyBot, for example, offers comprehensive drone surveying solutions tailored for the mining industry.

Compared to traditional surveying methods, drone inspections significantly reduce risks to worker safety and environmental impact. Mines can gather the data they need quickly and safely, freeing up resources to focus on optimising operations.

Integrating these systems can help mining companies comprehensively visualise their sites through precise 3D modelling and uncover new opportunities to take their operations to more advanced levels of efficiency and profitability.

Advantages of Drone Surveying in Mining

Mining companies can greatly reduce costs and enhance operational efficiency by leveraging drone surveying in their mining operations. One of the primary advantages of drone surveying in mining is its increased efficiency. Companies can collect data faster and more accurately, enabling management to make better-informed decisions, ultimately leading to improved operational efficiency.

Drone surveying in mining also enhances the safety of workers by accessing hazardous areas remotely, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries. Drone surveying advantages include improved data accuracy and detail, providing a more thorough understanding of localised mining operations.

Surveying with advanced drone technology captures high-resolution images and precise topographic maps, enabling the identification of areas of improvement and operational optimisation.

The benefits of drone surveying in mining are undeniable. Leveraging drone applications brings mining operations into the modern era of AI and all the benefits this technology offers. This modern technology can be a strategic component in the mining industry's overall proficiency, efficiency, and profitability.

Specific Applications of Drone Surveying in Mining

Drone surveying has many specific applications that can greatly improve operations. These technologies can streamline processes and provide valuable insights, from open pit and underground mine surveys to stockpile management and volume calculations.

1. Open Pit And Underground Mine Surveys

Surveying open pits and underground mines with drones enhances how mining companies gather data, enabling them to make more informed decisions and improve efficiency and safety.

This level of precision allows the identification of areas for improvement and the creation of data-driven strategies.

A reputable drone surveying company, such as RocketDNA, can provide in-depth open pit  models; providing comprehensive data and an understanding of the mine's operation.

Pit Conformance Monitoring
2. Stockpile Management And Volume Calculations

Drone technology brings new and improved methods to stockpile management and volume calculations in the mining industry, enabling companies to accurately measure and track inventory levels, composition, and condition. With the help of advanced sensors and AI software, drone technology provides precise volumetric surveys, eliminating manual measurements and reducing human error. This results in significant time and cost savings for mining companies.

Implementing drone technology promotes easier, more regular stockpile audits, material movement tracking, and storage capacity optimisation. The high-resolution cameras and drone sensors capture detailed images and data, which are then processed using AI software to provide accurate calculations. This data can be used to identify areas of inefficiency, reduce waste, and improve overall stockpile management.

Drone technology also enables real-time monitoring of stockpile conditions, allowing companies to respond quickly to changes in inventory levels or material composition. With accurate data at their fingertips, teams can make informed decisions to optimise the operation and, ultimately, improve the company's bottom line.

Stockpile Management
3. Blast Planning And Monitoring

Mining companies can greatly enhance blast planning and monitoring by using drone technology to capture high-resolution images and videos of blast sites before, during, and after explosions. This allows valuable insights into the blast process, optimising blast design and reducing the risk of accidents.

The capture of detailed pre-blast footage, monitoring of the blast in real-time, and analysis of post-blast footage assist in the assessment of the efficacy of the blast. This data can be integrated with AI algorithms to provide actionable insights, enabling the refining of blast planning, safety, and monitoring processes.

Fragmentation Analysis
4. Environmental Monitoring And Compliance

Effective environmental monitoring and compliance in mining operations rely heavily on accurate and timely data. This data can be efficiently collected and analysed using drone-based surveying technology.

Mining professionals understand the importance of ensuring operations are environmentally sustainable and compliant with regulations. Drone technology can help achieve this by providing real-time data on environmental impacts, such as air and water quality, noise pollution, and land degradation.

Drone environmental monitoring helps identify potential risks and implement proactive measures to mitigate them. This helps avoid costly fines and reputational damage and enhances the company's sustainability credentials.

Drone compliance monitoring enables companies to demonstrate adherence to regulations and standards, providing proof to governments and environmental agencies that the mine's operations are environmentally responsible and socially accountable.

5. Asset Management And Equipment Inspections

As mining operations rely on a complex network of assets and equipment, maintaining their peak performance is essential to ensuring uninterrupted production and reducing downtime. This is where drone-based surveying technology can play a significant role.

Surveying with drone and AI technology helps to streamline asset management and equipment inspections, ensuring that operations run smoothly and efficiently. Integration of AI into the drone surveying workflow automates the inspection process, reducing the risk of human error and increasing the accuracy of the data.

This allows teams to identify potential issues before they become major problems, reducing downtime and increasing overall productivity. With drone surveying, companies can conduct regular equipment inspections, monitor asset performance, and track maintenance schedules, all while reducing the need for physical inspections and minimising the risk of accidents.

Asset Management

Integration of AI in Drone Surveying

By harnessing the power of AI in drone surveying, mining operations can greatly enhance data processing and analysis, tapping into the potential for predictive maintenance, anomaly detection, and optimised resource extraction. AI provides the ability to process vast amounts of data quickly and accurately, revealing previously inaccessible insights.

This is particularly significant in the mining industry, where accurate data processing is essential for efficient resource extraction and reducing costs. With AI-powered drone surveying, the automation of tasks such as data processing allows management teams to focus on higher-level analysis and decision-making.

AI applications can also detect anomalies in the data, such as equipment malfunctions or environmental hazards, enabling the implementation of proactive measures to mitigate risks. AI-driven insights can help optimise resource extraction, reduce waste, and improve overall efficiency.

Real-World Case Studies

Most companies in the mining industry have likely encountered numerous challenges that drone surveying and AI can help overcome, and real-world case studies demonstrate the tangible benefits of integrating these technologies into these operations.

For example, RocketDNA conducted a LiDAR drone project in Zambia, showcasing significant cost savings, improved safety, and operational efficiencies. The project reduced manual measurements, eliminated human error, and increased accuracy.

Another case study highlights RocketDNA’s impact on stockpile management, using high-resolution cameras, LiDAR sensors, and AI software to provide accurate data on inventory levels, enhancing safety and efficiency. This automation eliminates manual measurements, saving time and resources while enhancing safety measures.

Real-world examples demonstrate the significant benefits of integrating drone surveying and AI into mining operations. With the ability to collect accurate data, automate monitoring, and enhance decision-making, drone surveying and AI are bringing positive advancements to the mining industry. Implementing these innovations can help mining companies stay ahead of the curve and maximise the full potential of their operations.

Challenges and Limitations

Handling the complexities of mining operations involves challenges specific to this industry, such as manoeuvring through rugged terrain, dealing with harsh environmental conditions, and meeting regulatory requirements.

Mining site regulations and airspace restrictions are vital considerations when implementing drone surveying and AI technology. Companies must guarantee compliance with regulations and restrictions to prevent disruptions to operations.

Data management and storage also become essential concerns, especially in large-scale operations where vast amounts of data are generated. This includes managing datasets, ensuring data accuracy, and integrating with existing systems.

The environmental conditions at the mining site must be considered, such as extreme temperatures, dust, and humidity, which can impact the performance and durability of your drones and sensors.RocketDNA’s xBot solutions are able to overcome these challenges with our cutting-edge technology, robust skid builds and automated flight capabilities. 


Integrating drone surveying and AI is transforming the mining industry in unprecedented ways. By using these technologies, mining companies can now gather accurate and detailed data, enhance operational efficiency, and improve site safety. Using sophisticated AI-driven analysis, miners can uncover hidden patterns, predict maintenance needs, and optimise resource allocation.

As the industry continues to evolve, the synergy between drone surveying and AI will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of mining. Incorporating these innovations into their strategies will be crucial for mining companies seeking to remain competitive, sustainable, and profitable in an increasingly complex and dynamic industry.

Explore RocketDNA's SurveyBot and other solutions to stay competitive, sustainable, and profitable in this dynamic industry.