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Data Acquisition and Processing Workflow: Enhancing Drone-Based Magnetometry for Mineral Exploration.

Integrated Systems
September 12, 2023

Welcome to the series of articles of the Drone for Mining series, where we explore the applications, benefits, limitations, and implementation strategies of drones and airborne sensors in the mining industry. To help us shed light on this topic, we have invited Trevor Grace, Director At AeroPhysx Company, and Dr. Janis Karuss, Lead Geophysicist at SPH Engineering.

In the world of mineral exploration, searching for valuable deposits requires advanced techniques and tools. One such tool is magnetometry, which utilizes the Earth's magnetic field to identify potential mineral resources.

In our previous installment, "The Role of Magnetometry in Advancing Mineral Exploration," we explored the merits of this technology. We discussed its ability to access remote and challenging terrains, superior survey resolution compared to ground-based methods, cost and time efficiencies in contrast to traditional airborne approaches, and enhanced safety it offers operators. However, we also acknowledged the challenges of vast or inaccessible regions, weight constraints, and the influence of weather and climate conditions.

We will continue our discussion today with the topic "Data Acquisition and Processing Workflow."  Stay tuned for our upcoming articles, where we will dive deeper into specific applications, advanced techniques, and case studies highlighting drone-based magnetometry's transformative power. Join SPH Engineering and discover new possibilities for mineral exploration.

Trevor Grace, with his extensive 40 years of experience in exploration and magnetics, emphasizes the significance of undertaking drone-based magnetometry correctly. He highlights the importance of skilled personnel for both data acquisition and processing, ensuring the delivery of accurate and reliable results. "It takes more than just flying a drone," he asserts. "A professional approach is necessary to analyze and utilize the acquired data effectively."

When embarking on a magnetic surveying project for mineral exploration, Trevor Grace outlines the crucial steps in the workflow. The process begins with obtaining the area information from the client as a file, allowing for a comprehensive evaluation of the terrain characteristics. Factors such as topography, accessibility, and potential obstacles like power lines or cell phone towers are carefully considered during the project design phase.

To optimize data collection, photogrammetry is often employed as a preliminary step, providing a high-resolution base for flight planning. Trevor Grace emphasizes the need for adaptability and client input in defining project goals and budgetary considerations. "The geological structure plays a significant role in determining the flight line direction," he explains. "Aiming for a 90-degree approach angle allows for accurate correlation between survey lines."

“Overcoming Challenges: Addressing Logistical and Technical Considerations"

Addressing the challenges posed by remote areas, Trevor Grace acknowledges the importance of logistical support, such as accommodation and vehicles. In certain instances, preliminary reconnaissance or local support is required to ensure a smooth operation. Additionally, factors like crew fatigue, communication with the field team, and safety protocols must be meticulously managed to uphold data quality and personnel well-being.

Janis Karuss, the lead geophysicist at SPH Engineering, emphasizes the significance of acquiring high-quality data and understanding the measurements obtained. He echoes Trevor Grace's sentiments about the need for proper training and knowledge in the field. "It's not just about collecting data; it's about collecting accurate and reliable data," he emphasizes. Investing in training programs and seeking guidance from experienced professionals is vital to ensure a strong foundation in geophysical surveying.

Both experts agree that the reputation of drone-based magnetometry in mineral exploration has suffered due to subpar data collection and misinterpretation. Trevor Grace advises businesses to approach this technology seriously and invest in the necessary resources to deliver reliable results. "Mag has gotten a bad name due to the prevalence of low-quality data," he states. "To regain trust, it's essential to conduct surveys properly and implement compensation techniques to minimize noise and oscillation distortions."

Dronemag merged with regional data
Case study: Gold exploration in GUINEA. The gold sits in Quartzsite veins, which are non-magnetic but are associated with slightly more magnetic surrounding material.

Drone technology, when utilized effectively, can revolutionize the mining industry. By adhering to a well-structured workflow, employing skilled professionals, and prioritizing data accuracy, businesses can harness the full potential of drone-based magnetometry. SPH Engineering, with its expertise in drone technology, stands as a trusted partner for organizations seeking to integrate drones and airborne sensors into their mining operations.

In conclusion, the success of any drone-based magnetometry project lies in meticulous planning, skilled execution, and accurate data processing. As the mining industry continues to embrace technological advancements, it is essential to prioritize expertise and quality to unlock the true benefits of drone technology in mineral exploration.