The new frontier in mine mapping and data capture capability


When attached to a drone, Hovermap is capable of autonomous, beyond line-of-sight flight.

The Hovermap technology from Emesent enables mining companies to better understand the condition and safety of their assets, culminating in the increased productivity of a mining operation.

Established in 2017, Emesent has become a forerunner in the digital mining movement through its autonomous data capture capabilities.

Its flagship technology, Hovermap, is offering mining companies a closer look at their infrastructure and production areas, facilitating more informed decision-making, while maximising safety and optimising mining rates along the way.

A mobile scanning unit that can be mounted onto a backpack, vehicle or drone, Hovermap operates in hazardous and GPS-denied environments using its autonomy, collision avoidance and SLAM capabilities to capture highly detailed and accurate data, which is processed in real time.

“The key challenge we’re solving for underground mining is capturing data in challenging, inaccessible areas,” Emesent chief executive officer Stefan Hrabar says.

“The first problem we addressed was mapping of stopes. Previously they (mining operations) were trying to scan these areas by putting a laser scanner (CMS) on a pole and operating this from a safety bund.

“Surveyors insert a pole into the void to scan it, but it wouldn’t be a complete scan because they are only scanning from one perspective.

“So, there would be a lot of missing data and they could not obtain an accurate picture of what was happening inside those voids. Were there failures and areas of over-break?”

Hovermap has proven important in all phases of a mine’s life, monitoring development and production voids, and infrastructure, and capturing data for rock mass characterisation and deformation monitoring.

Whether it be scanning development areas of a mine, auditing installed ground support, monitoring the condition of mine ventilation systems and beyond, Hovermap has the capability to solve many headaches.

In fact, Emesent has released a case study outlining the 20-plus ways Hovermap can be used in underground mining.

Four years on from its first trial, there are now Hovermaps in use across Australia, further unlocking mines one scan at a time.

And with the perpetual expectation to increase productivity as competitive standards continue their ascent, mining companies are having to unearth more from their assets than ever before.

Yet, the sustained obligation to ensure safety and prevent injuries is just as imperative – a reality the most cavernous of terrains doesn’t lend itself to.

“There’s a lot of pressure in the mining industry to increase productivity without compromising safety – they’re mining deeper because near surface resources are being depleted,” Hrabar says.

“As you get deeper, the ground is less stable and it’s more challenging to mine. Enabling mining at depth is by better remote monitoring of the environment.

“If you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it, so getting data about whatever is happening underground is critical.”

That’s where Emesent’s Hovermap technology comes to the fore – enabling operations to let technology do the important but equally hazardous work for them.

“It’s bit of a catch 22 because mining deeper to get more ore potentially exposes personnel to more hazards. You want to remove people from hazards, but you also need more monitoring in every facet of the mine,” Hrabar continues.

“So robotics and autonomous systems solve that problem because you can undertake rigorous monitoring in shorter time intervals in challenging environments, without putting humans at risk – that’s a key part of the digital transformation and push to increased digitisation of underground assets.”

Hovermap’s flight capabilities enable it to inspect and capture accurate data of voids.

As Emesent continues to redefine underground mapping, its Hovermap technology is becoming more versatile with more applications.

“From a customer’s perspective, they’re making decisions and for that they need insights,” Hrabar says.

“They need to take measurements or compare the data over time to make decisions, so automating the analysis of the data is where we’re focussing our own development.

“We’re not just capturing the data, but actively deriving insights from the data.”

Emesent’s evolution is about facilitating the transition between the data capture phase and the final decision-making process, where critical but more precise calculations and assessments are made easier.

This leads to faster and more informed decisions, culminating in the increased productivity, profitability and safety of a mining operation.

And with equal capabilities in open cut environments as the underground, Emesent’s Hovermap technology is quickly becoming the industry standard.

This article appeared in the December issue of Australian Mining.

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