SummaryWhat is innovative is that it is a new system in exploration. It has about 10 different sensors integrated into the drone, making this more productive and environmentally friendly (no contact with the ground). It is an automated system, with a programmed flight plan, allowing for large areas to be covered in a short period of time (depending on regulation). The intention is also to reduce drilling needed (and hence costs). The system also provides a cost effective way to make mineral exploration in new, unexplored areas.
The company, Radai Oy, is innovating geophysical surveys and remote sensing by using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or drones, as they are commonly known, which before were done mainly by carrying the relevant monitoring equipment.
The comany's UAV measurement system is installed in a custom-made UAV (Terrain Scout). The flight is controlled by an autopilot. The autopilot records flight data including GPS time and position (latitude and longitude), the orientation (roll, pitch and yaw), and barometric pressure. The real-time flight is controlled by PC software via a telemetry (radio) link. The nominal accuracy of the GPS position is about ±1.5 m.
The magnetic field is measured using a digital 3-component flux-gate magnetometer. The magnetometer data (X, Y, Z components and total field), are recorded by the company's own data logger. The GPS time and position are synchronized with the autopilot.
A base station located near the mobile telemetry/control station measures the time variation of the total magnetic field using a proton precession magnetometer.
This allows for more cost effective (i.e faster and more versatile (e.g. swamps or rivers are no obstacles for drones) and environmentally friendlier (no impact on the ground) exploration. Challenges remaining are the limited payload (requiring survey equipment to be modified light weight), the limited flight time (requiring comprehensive planning for larger survey areas), weather (i.e. wind) and different aviation policy requirements in different countries.
In August 2015 the company carried out a geophysical magnetic survey at Ryssänlampi site. The measurements were committed for Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) with the purpose to investigate the quality and reliability of an UAV based magnetic measurement system by comparing the results with existing GTK data. It was successful.
Impact on the mining value chain
EXPLORATION (incl. permitting)
safe and fast remote exploration
reduced environmental impact
+: Less land impact during exploration phase
+: Allows for exploration in new areas, which might result in new orebody discoveries
+: Drone based exploration requires less (foot) access into potentially dangerous areas
+: Reduction of costs to the company compared to land based exploration