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The Future of Mining: Advancements in Drone-Based Magnetometry.

Integrated Systems
September 29, 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 titled "Data Acquisition and Processing Workflow: Advancing Drone-Based Magnetometry for Mineral Exploration," we explored critical steps in the workflow. These steps included obtaining area information from the client as a file and facilitating a comprehensive evaluation of terrain characteristics. Factors to be meticulously considered during the project design phase encompass topography, accessibility, and potential obstacles such as power lines and cell phone towers.

Nevertheless, we also discussed that the reputation of drone-based magnetometry in mineral exploration has been tarnished by subpar data collection and misinterpretation.

Today, we delve into the final topic of this series, "The Future of Mining: Advancements in Drone-Based Magnetometry." Stay tuned for our upcoming articles, where we will delve deeper into specific applications, advanced techniques, and case studies highlighting drone-based magnetometry's transformative potential. Join SPH Engineering and unlock new possibilities in the realm of mineral exploration.

Exploring Drone-Based Magnetometry Solutions in Mineral Exploration

According to Trevor Grace, director of AeroPhysx Company and a renowned exploration and magnetics expert, "Drone-based magnetometry has proven instrumental in mineral exploration." Grace highlights the ability of drones to eliminate noise interference, offering unparalleled data accuracy. He further emphasizes the ongoing developments in battery technology, enabling longer flight durations and the surveying of larger areas.

When it comes to the solutions available in the market, Trevor Grace explains that there are several options, each with its strengths and weaknesses. GEM-based systems, while generally reliable, may have a slightly lower sample rate compared to other sensors. Geometrics MagArrow, with its two sensors operating at 1000Hz, offers an innovative approach to address dead zones. QuSpin is also emerging as a player in this field, although some limitations exist in their current system. Efforts are being made to optimize their sensors specifically for drone-based exploration. Additionally, there are fluxgate systems, but Trevor Grace expresses some reservations about their effectiveness due to potential noise interference from the drone's motors.

At present, AeroPhysx utilizes MagArrow for its magnetometry needs. Trevor Grace praises the reliability and robustness of these instruments, which can withstand significant temperature changes. However, in extremely hot conditions exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, operations are limited to nighttime flights. To tackle this challenge, AeroPhysx has customized larger drones internally, increasing their battery capacity to enable flights lasting up to three hours without the need for battery changes. This eliminates the reliance on generators, allowing the team to operate more efficiently and comfortably throughout the day.

Dr. Karuss emphasizes the importance of understanding the different measurement techniques in magnetometry. Scalar field measurements provide information about the absolute strength of the magnetic field and can be conducted using sensors like MagArrow or QuSpin. On the other hand, vector field measurements capture the strength of the magnetic field in vertical and horizontal directions, requiring R3 and R4 magnetometers. Depending on the specific task, one technique may be more suitable than the other, although working with scalar data is generally considered easier.

In terms of available options, SPH Engineering offers its own QuSpin-based magnetometers MagNIMBUS, compatible with drones capable of handling such payloads and providing sufficient flight endurance, such as DJI M300, Inspired Flight IF1200A, and Wispr Ranger Pro. Trevor Grace highlights the shift from the DJI environment to the Pixhawk environment due to the unique requirements of their operations.

Future of drone-based magnetometry

Dr. Janis Karuss, SPH Engineering's lead geophysicist and a doctor of geological science, decided to note the role of artificial intelligence in data processing. Dr. Karuss notes that AI has gained significant attention across various fields, including geophysics. While acknowledging the need for extensive datasets, he expresses optimism that AI algorithms can simplify data interpretation and expedite routine operations. However, Dr. Karuss emphasizes the irreplaceable role of senior-level geophysicists in complex analysis and precise interpretations.

It is also important to note the remarkable technological achievements that determine magnetometry using drones."Long-endurance drones and fast sampling magnetometers have emerged as game-changers," states Trevor Grace. He underscores the significance of high sampling rates to eliminate drone-induced noise, revolutionizing data accuracy. Additionally, Trevor Grace envisions advancements in terrain awareness and terrain-following capabilities, enhancing survey precision and safety.

SPH Engineering believes in fostering collaboration and driving innovation to propel the mining industry forward. As Trevor Grace aptly states, "The more people know about technology, the more widely it's used." Through sharing expertise and encouraging knowledge exchange, SPH Engineering aims to empower mining professionals to embrace drone-based magnetometry and harness its immense potential.

With cutting-edge technology, noise reduction techniques, and advancements in data processing and analysis, the future of mining looks incredibly promising. By leveraging the expertise of industry veterans like Trevor Grace and Dr. Janis Karuss, SPH Engineering remains committed to providing groundbreaking solutions and transforming the mining industry's approach to mineral exploration.

As the mining sector embarks on this exciting journey, SPH Engineering continues to lead the way, empowering mining companies with state-of-the-art drone technology. Through innovation, collaboration, and a relentless pursuit of excellence, SPH Engineering is driving the future of magnetometry, unlocking new possibilities and uncovering the hidden treasures of the Earth's mineral resources.