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Boulby mine was one of the first in the world to use SLAM technology, having adopted GeoSLAM’s ZEB1 into their workflow, in 2013. Nowadays, the mine operates GeoSLAM ZEB Horizons for most of their survey needs.
Hosted by GeoSLAM dealer Optron and GeoSLAM’s Global Head of Mining Owen Howells. This webinar focuses on Mining Applications and how SLAM technology can be used to quickly and effectively map the existing mining operations. Showcasing the workflow from capturing the data using the ZEB Horizon 3D laser scanner to generating a georeferenced point cloud in GeoSLAM Connect and ultimately getting to the final deliverable.
Includes use cases directly from GeoSLAM customers.
Control points are points within a given area that have known coordinates. They are a key tool in the geospatial industry and can be utilised in a variety of ways, including georeferencing point clouds and aligning aerial images to terrestrial data. By using control points, surveyors are able to accurately map larger areas and position overlapping surveys of an area together. They can also be used in non-geospatial industries, such as construction and mining, to show clear temporal comparisons between multiple surveys of the same area. This method of georeferencing is also referred to as adjust to control.
Previously, checkerboards and spherical targets have been used as control markers – these items are captured in surveys and can be identified for georeferencing or aligning. The main drawback with these methods is that they rely heavily on human interpretation when processing, meaning that the processed datasets may be susceptible to an increased amount of error.
When capturing handheld surveys, GeoSLAM systems are able to collect reference points. These can then be matched with known control points to reference scans and increase the level of accuracy.
Easily reference point clouds and produce reports highlighting accuracy values.
Regularly monitor site operations (e.g. stockpiles) and hazards.
Compare changes over time and map progress onto predetermined CAD/BIM models.
Once georeferenced using control points, point clouds can be optimised further using leading third party software:
For more information about our third party partnerships, head to our integrations page.
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Last Updated on 25th April 2022 Why is Geospatial Information so Important?… Read More »Why is Geospatial Information so Important?
The way we work is changing. Advanced technology tools are transforming the way we collaborate, analyse, organise and innovate. In just about every sector, the tech advance is helping organisations be more productive, save time and money and work better together. And the mining industry is no different – only that it lags behind. (1)
With increased competition, the pressure is on. Around the world, mining operators across all commodities are facing the combined challenges of declining ore grades and operating efficiency. With the decreasing availability of tier one assets, and continued focus on shareholder returns, operators are looking towards digital tools and new ways of working to drive results.
The digital revolution can transform and automate the entire mining value chain from ‘pit to customer’. Advanced supply chain visualisation tools can aggregate data from multi-systems to show near-real-time operations metrics; drones can help with geotechnical monitoring and remotely conduct stockpile volumetric audits; and powerful laser scanners can build highly accurate 3D maps of underground mines in minutes.
The last decade has seen the rollercoaster of highs and lows in the mining sector; and the volatility is likely to continue.(2) While digital tools are readily available that help mining decision-makers do the job better, faster, safer and more cost effectively, there are still many businesses slow to embrace transformative practices. With change being a constant, forward- thinking mining operators need to embrace digital technology and drive innovation, or risk being left behind.
As the mining industry’s value proposition is increasingly called into question, mining companies are beginning to see that they cannot succeed into the future unless they change the way they operate.
-Glenn Ives, Americas Mining Leader, Deloitte Canada
Today’s mining companies aren’t short for choice when it comes to assessing ground-breaking technologies. From autonomous vehicles to automated drilling and tunnel boring systems, the decreasing cost of technology puts many of these innovations within reach. Even within the last few years, drone technology has taken off to the extent that easy-to-use aerial technology is now affordable – and millions of drones are sold each year. (3)
Digital technologies already employed or that will be employed in the next 3-5 years in mining operations:
According to Anglo American, spatial data is being used more and more in the mining industry, with spatial data models and maps becoming more detailed and clearer than ever before. Today, we are seeing breakthroughs in three-dimensional (3D) modelling, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) technology.(1)
3D modelling creates a viewable, life-like impression with depth perception that allows the human brain to understand and relate to complex interrelated issues. VR enables a user to test a piece of equipment without the risk of damage or cost. These new technologies allow us to design new mines more efficiently and make it possible to experience what it’s like to work in a mine without being out in the field.
Digital technologies can not only help mining companies survive, but importantly, to thrive. The productivity and safety gains of embracing new technologies are huge: better equipment performance (47 percent), operational/administrative cost savings (42 percent) and better decision making (40 percent).(3) When you add in stronger collaboration across the supply chain, safer conditions for employees being removed from dangerous working conditions and waste being eliminated – even the most risk averse of mining companies can be convinced.
Yet to be truly successful – cutting-edge technology alone isn’t enough. While digital solutions will empower employees to make better decisions, they will also cause upheaval as manual jobs are automated. Mining companies need to consider how to create new employment opportunities, and how to reskill and retrain people to learn technology and tools faster. They’ll need to not only reach beyond traditional tools but importantly embrace the mindset and approach to collaborate.
Technology is certainly not a silver bullet, but targeted in the right places, it will make mines even more safe, and our operations more efficient and cost-effective.
– Dr Caius Priscu, Head of Mineral Residue Facilities, Anglo American
A decade ago, Rio Tinto declared one of the most ambitious transformation programs in mining: plans for an intelligent mine packed with driverless trains, trucks and robotics. At the heart of the program is an operations centre in Western Australia that today generates 2.4 terabytes of data every minute from hundreds of pieces of mobile equipment and sensors. Covering 16 individual mines, the one integrated centre (which looks very similar to NASA’s control centre) is manned by operators over 1,500km from the physical sites.
The mining giant was also the first mining company to introduce fully autonomous haul trucks which to date have moved over 1 billion tonnes of material and travelled over 150 billion kms. But automation doesn’t stop there: it also introduced automated drills in production drilling, which is safer for operators and more efficient, and is introducing robotic automation in its rail system – a train comprised of 244 cars stretching a total of 2kms driven by robots. Next stop, possibly a mine with no miners?
We’ve long been fascinated by the underground world of tunnels and caves, and with today’s tech it may soon be possible that ‘Google maps™’ goes underground. Yet aside from exploring the depths for knowledge, mine operators need to safely tap into and excavate the wealth of minerals beneath us. And this comes with a number of challenges:
Underground mapping is one of the most difficult and demanding forms of surveying with mining professionals needing to work in tight, enclosed spaces.
Mining sites are notoriously hazardous, despite the most rigorous safety checks. Companies strive for zero-harm targets yet the mapping process itself is risky.
Tunnel construction and underground projects are time consuming and complex, and companies need to plan efficient site operations to optimise production cycles.
Mining professionals need to rapidly and accurately map underground environments under intense time pressure, yet traditional survey techniques are slow and inefficient.
Access to user-friendly technology that can quickly scan difficult-to-reach environments and produce accurate and high-quality 3D data can be a game-changer for mining operators. Leading the change is 3D mobile mapping which helps mine operators improve the way they dig up commodities as well as helping them cut costs, all without the need for GPS.
Using a handheld laser scanner, operators can walk and scan, or attach the scanner to a trolley, drone, pole or mine vehicle for remote monitoring of hazardous environments. The scanner collects the data and SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping) software turns it into actionable 3D information within minutes. With minimal training, operators can use it for rapid insight into rock mass behaviour, to measure stockpile volumes or to map complex tunnel profiles. Robust enough to deal with extremely harsh environments, laser scanners help mine owners deliver productivity and efficiency improvements, at the same time as keeping operators safer.
This technology allows us to quickly and easily view, compare and evaluate data to paint a picture of what’s under the ground. It’s like an ultrasound image of the deposit delivered in real time, something that we could never do before.
– John McGagh, Head of Innovation, Rio Tinto
Creating highly accurate maps of the underground world, for the mining and natural resource industries, is one of the most complex forms of surveying. Yet innovations in laser technology are transforming and simplifying the way we map the world beneath us and are being applied to a wide range of applications including:
With powerful mobile mapping technology at their fingertips, mine operators have ready access to previously unattainable insight into rock mass behaviour. This means they can better tailor their ground support regimes, monitor convergence and better target rehabilitation areas. Other benefits include:
Operators can slash survey times with easy-to-use technology. Anyone on site can map accurate tunnel profiles, stockpile volumes, pits and caves in minutes.
You can use the technology in the trickiest, darkest and dampest of spaces, even where GPS isn’t available. Walk with the handheld or attach it to a trolley, drone, robot or autonomous vehicle.
You can safely scan underground, inaccessible and dangerous environments, even remote and hazardous areas.
Data capture and modelling are up to 10x faster, allowing you to successfully complete projects in minimum time with little or no disruption.
Beck Engineering, an Australian mining engineering consultancy specialising in mining and rock mechanics analysis, needs to rapidly map mines under intense time constraints using versatile technology which is adaptable to any environment. GeoSLAM’s handheld mobile mapping solution was chosen as it is compact, portable and delivers a high level of accuracy. With GeoSLAM’s “go-anywhere” 3D technology in hand, Beck Engineering has been able to supply invaluable data regarding the direct effects of mining to better understand the implications of a deforming rock mass. Beck Engineering is now able to accurately measure the shape of an excavation or tunnel over time. As a result, tunnels are safer, better designed and more cost efficient.
We have continued to use GeoSLAM products as they have proven to be affordable, lightweight and sufficiently robust devices for their application underground. GeoSLAM continues to produce a high-quality device that is at the forefront of practical mobile laser scanning devices.
– Evan Jones, Senior Rock Mechanics Engineer at Beck
Tech advancements are already helping improve mine safety, remove wastage and drive greater productivity. And mining companies are already creating jobs that require artificial intelligence or automation-specific skills – from data scientists to automation engineers. Forward-thinking operators who foster innovation will remain competitive. While some mining companies may hesitate and deliberate choosing which technology is best for them to deploy, others are decisive and lead in the race for intelligent mine of the future.
The digital revolution is here – and it’s going underground. With unmanned technology able to carry out open-pit operations, and complex software algorithms able to mine vast quantities of sensor data, the leap to a truly digital mine is within reach.
With our Mining solution specialist
Book a meeting with Owen to learn more about GeoSLAM and how it could transform your mining operations.
With the recent introduction and constant evolution of handheld SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) scanning, mapping underground has become safer, quicker, more automated, highly repeatable, and more effective.
Data captured by Laserscanning Europe
Scanning with the ZEB Horizon | Words by Laserscanning Europe
The object of measurement is located in the Hattorf/Wintershall mining facility of the company K+S Minerals and Agriculture GmbH. This is a cavity (underground, vertical conveyor system) about 500m below the earth’s surface with a depth of 70m.
The cavity no longer has the original storage volume due to material deposits from years of operation. The environment is dusty and it is expected that material will be deposited within the conveyor system at any time. In addition, the cavity is not accessible to humans from any opening and access is only possible through 1m diameter openings.
The objective was to obtain a three-dimensional survey of the conveyor system with highest possible resolution for inspection of the systems condition. Furthermore, strict compliance with all work safety regulations, with minimal risk for the measuring team, was required.
For this job, a mobile laser scanner was used. Thanks to its specifications, the GeoSLAM ZEB Horizon is ideally suited for the special conditions underground. The scanner is also suitable for surveying a cavity that is only accessible from above through a narrow shaft.
The scanner was mounted on a cradle, which was modified to minimise rotational movements when lowered. A 50m rope was attached to the cradle, which was used to lower the measurement system into the cavity.
Furthermore, trained members of the mine rescue team were on site to provide security and enable the scanner to be lowered and retrieved safely.
Workflow of the analysis
Following the survey, the scan data was processed using the GeoSLAM HUB software. The raw data, i.e. the processing of the point cloud from the data of the laser sensor and the IMU, is automated as much as possible. In the case that a scan was not automatically processed (e.g. because few geometric changes are found in the object space), the focus of the SLAM algorithm can be influenced by adjusting various parameters. Once the data has been run through GeoSLAM Hub, a complete point cloud of the cavity is available in .laz format. All other common point cloud formats can also be exported with little effort.
Since the scanner could only be lowered linearly on the rope, the earth deposits shadow smaller areas inside the cavity.
The result of this scanning is impressive. This cavity, which is not accessible to humans, was successfully surveyed with the help of the GeoSLAM ZEB Horizon. The point cloud documents the dimensions of the cavity according to the requirements. Further missions with the GeoSLAM ZEB Horizon with similar objectives are already being planned and implemented.
The history of shotcrete
Since its conception in the early 1900s, shotcrete application has developed to become one of the most critical ground supporting techniques for underground excavations. The technology has evolved from manual nozzle handling to computer guided, hydraulically controlled boom-mounted nozzles. By controlling variables in the shotcreting application, the layer of sprayed concrete can be optimally designed to meet the in-situ geotechnical constraints. In some scenarios, shotcrete will be designed to flex with the squeezing rock, whilst in others, it may simply act as a barrier to protect from rock bursts.
Understanding how the shotcrete will react in different conditions allows operators to apply the right amount of material. Shotcrete thickness is paramount when applying shotcrete, therefore it must be monitored during application using the safest and most reliable method. The aim of this article is to demonstrate how the SR-50 system, developed by GeoSLAM, is suitable for near real-time shotcrete application quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC).
Shotcrete – The modern method with failing processes
The Sika Sprayed Concrete Handbook (1) states that the only method for accurately calculating initial strength is by measuring thickness. Current methods rely on operators endangering themselves to un-secured shotcrete in order to manually collect thickness readings. A total of 5% of all tunneling injuries can be attributed to the shotcreting process in tunneling (2). Industry professionals recognise the need to balance the provision of a safe working environment for its operators with the demand for increased production rates, accurately measured and documented shotcrete thickness.
In 2016 GeoSLAM developed the SR-50 system deployed throughout the Jetcrete Australia fleet. The technology has now been licensed to Normet Oy who have adopted the technology as SmartScan.
The system provides the operator with near real-time results displaying shotcrete thickness after each application cycle with a single button press. A colour-coded map of the spray area allows the operator to identify regions of concern easily and accurately. Once the operator is satisfied that the sprayed thickness complies to site criteria an electronic report is automatically created. This report documents the application cycle, providing the average applied thickness, total volume of shotcrete applied to the surface and the final thickness map that can be used for quality assurance. All data is stored on the system for further analysis and archiving. Without exposing the operator to dangerous conditions, the system can act as a training tool for novice operators, as well as aiding experienced operators to spray to the desired profile thickness, thus minimising overspray.
Analysis of data collected from sites using the SR-50, showed an approximate 20% reduction in overall concrete usage. This means that an average single sprayer operation can reach a return of investment within 2-3 months, have improved safety, and expedite the shotcrete application process.
The system created by GeoSLAM now achieves an accuracy of less than 5mm. This measured accuracy and reliability of measurement now enables the large-scale use of the technology on multiple sites.
Laser Scanning: Accuracy benchmarks
Terrestrial Laser Scanners (TLS) and Scanning Total Stations (STS) systems are based on laser technology and are commonly used across numerous surveying sectors where accurate range measurements are required. Typical systems have accuracies that range from sub-mm to several mm’s depending on the underlying technology and cost. However, in the underground environment these technologies tend to be extremely expensive, complex to use, often requiring specialist training, and can require time-consuming processing in an office environment to produce results. The SR-50, although based on laser scanning technology was specifically designed for the shotcreting industry to be simple to use, automated, cost effective and accurate.
To evaluate the accuracy of the system a rigorous approach was developed. The assessment criteria relied on the use of a TLS (Riegl VZ-400) that was deployed in a controlled environment. The TLS was chosen on the premise that to assess the accuracy of the SR-50, the reference data must of greater accuracy than the test data. The ability to control any changes in the environment was paramount to avoiding ambiguities in the results.
An artificial tunnel environment was constructed with cross-sectional dimensions similar to those in the mine tunneling environment. After an initial base scan of the environment, using the TLS and SR-50 a series of control-panels of known thickness (verified using vernier callipers) were introduced at varying positions in the tunnel. After each control-panel was introduced, changemaps were calculated from SR-50 and the TLS data. Thicknesses of 8, 13, 18 and 30mm were used.
The first assessment of the SR-50 system was to compare comparison results of the test environment with no change against the results using the TLS. Since, there was no physical change to the environment this provided an indication of the repeatability of the system. This assessment was then repeated by placing 8mm, 13, 18 and 30mm boards into the scene and measuring the average thicknesses using the SR-50 and TLS data.
The top image shows the comparison map derived from the SR-50 when no change was made to the environment. The middle shows a comparison of the computed changemap from the TLS control-panel (LHS) and the panel measured by the SR-50 (RHS), both for a 13mm control-panel. The figure clearly shows that the SR-50 gives comparable results to the TLS. The changemap for the TLS gives a more consistent result due to the much higher point density. However, the measured average change across the panels are the same. Control-panels were also attached to the sides and shoulders of the test area and an example changemap is shown in the bottom image.
|Board Thickness (mm)||0||8||13||18|
|Smartscan Selection Mode Difference (mm)||0||0||0||0|
|Third Party Difference (mm)||0||1||1||1|
The above table provides results for the comparison between the average thickness of the control-panels measured using the TLS and SR-50. To assess the accuracy of the automated changemaps created in the SR-50 software, the raw data was exported and thickness maps were calculated in a 3rd party software. The results show good agreement with the on-board solution available at the time of spraying.
With our Mining solution specialist
Book a meeting with Owen to learn more about Production Mapping and how it could transform your mining operations.
The state of Nevada is currently the fifth largest gold producer in the world. First discovered in 1849 by prospectors on their way to the California gold rush, gold and later silver caused several booms, with production really picking up in the 1960s thanks to new metallurgical techniques which meant recovery of more gold than ever before. Looking at old mines from the 1800s with our modern perspective provides great opportunities.
Newrange Gold is bringing new things to old places at the Pamlico project, which was one of the highest-grade gold districts in Nevada in the 1880s. Records of the mine workings are lost and the workings have never been systematically studied, leaving an enormous opportunity to map, survey, and sample the old exposures. With 5 miles or more of historic mine tunnels dating from the period of 1884 to about 1928, you can understand why no-one has done it before: it would be too time-consuming and costly to do with conventional surveying.
My company, Carrington Consulting, invested in the ZEB Horizon to expedite surveying, mapping and sampling at our client company, Newrange Gold Corp., at the Pamlico project. Systematically scanning the complex, interconnected workings has generated an unprecedented 3D map of the mine workings and has resulted in greater than 50% savings to date over conventional surveying and mapping techniques.
“Our experience with the ZEB Horizon so far is vastly superior to traditional methods and is an indispensable part of my exploration toolkit.“
In addition to revealing very subtle structural details of the geology, this mapping will form an essential part of modelling historic production and the remaining gold resource at the project going forward. This revolutionary hand held LIDAR scanning technology allows us to complete extremely accurate underground geological and sampling maps, volume analysis of material moved, and careful planning of exploration drilling to better calculate mineral resources in preparation for possible resource definition and mining at Pamlico.
Carrington Consulting’s team is scanning more than 5 miles of tunnels at Pamlico for Newrange. These workings extend over an area more than 1,500 feet long and 800 feet wide with a vertical depth of roughly 300 feet and form an extensive network of adits, tunnels, stopes and raises with at least 30 major entrances that are largely interconnected. Scanning is tied to established surface survey control for registration and orientation so the scan can be accurately carried underground. Underground survey control points are established using a series of spheres to allow Newrange’s geologists to later reoccupy the points to complete the geological mapping.
Many of the mine workings are less than a metre wide and in some cases, they are also less than a metre high following the gold vein, wherever it goes, forming a very irregular, complex network of tunnels and stopes. It would be prohibitively slow and expensive to do this essential mapping with conventional surveying or terrestrial scanning, but the ZEB Horizon makes it realistic for Newrange to accomplish this ambitious goal.
As always safety is paramount, especially when entering old mine tunnels and stopes. With the 100 meter distance capability of the Horizon no one needs to go into unsafe areas. In addition virtually every timber, ladder, and detail are recorded.
We have produced highly accurate data of mine workings up to ¼ mile in length in less than 15 minutes, which changes the game for Newrange at Pamlico. As Newrange gathers information on gold grades from sampling throughout these workings, we are integrating additional layers of information to build a comprehensive 3D model of the geology across the entire area of old underground workings.
At Iowa State DOT (Department of Transport) it is our job to make sure over 24,000 miles of road remains clear and safe to use in winter. We have 109 maintenance areas across the state where stockpiles of salt are kept for distribution. Each facility can each hold up to 1200 tonnes.
Throughout winter salt is loaded onto trucks and spread on roads to stop the surface from freezing. Pay loads are measured in weight as salt is loaded onto spreading trucks and supplies are depleted. But as the salt is used, there is a clear discrepancy between the volume of salt in the shed and the paper records – it is not reliable to just look inside a half-empty shed and assess how much material remains.
If volume of salt is too low or we don’t know how much is available, we may find ourselves forced to make snap decisions about redistribution which is both costly to the state and inconvenient to residents and businesses alike.
We needed another solution and following a few severe winters where salt reserves around the country ran out, the Great Lakes froze and shipments were halted we were determined to invest in a reliable measuring process for managing stockpiles in future, which led us to a GeoSLAM volumes solution.
“In terms of speed and accuracy, this was a real game changer for us!“
Using the handheld SLAM device, we can produce a three-dimensional model of the stockpile in just a few minutes. We have never experienced this level of accuracy before and capturing data was as easy as surveying the site with the naked eye.
The surface of the stockpile is very uneven with lumps on one side and big cliffs on the other where loaders have dug-out salt for spreading, in the past our ‘best guess’ used to involve looking at the stockpile against some markers on the walls of the shed which provided limited accuracy to say the least, so this was a real game changer for us.
Data is then processed using GeoSLAM Hub and imported to the volumes software. As the granules vary in size, we apply a bulk density value as well as defining a floor and perimeter of each pile calculate the total volume of the stockpile in tonnes.
From start to end, the entire process took around twenty minutes. We now have depot staff going out and scanning the stockpiles regularly. This new level of insight means we don’t have to worry about compromising road users’ safety across the state of Iowa as we always know what volume of salt we have available to use.
When creating underground mapping for mines, mining engineers are often faced with having to work in hazardous and rugged environments, in difficult-to-access spaces and without GPS coverage. In order to address these challenges, mining companies are continuously searching for ways to plan efficient site operations, streamline tunnelling processes and optimise production and personnel safety.
Kidd Mine, an underground base metal mine in Canada and the world’s deepest copper/ zinc mine, epitomises this by adopting new and advanced survey technology. With the aid of GeoSLAM’s 3D mapping technology, the mine is able to assess risk associated with ground and support systems failure, magnitude seismic events, large-scale deformation or rock bursts associated with mining at extreme depths.
Built for harsh and demanding environments, GeoSLAM’s handheld laser scanners are robust, splash-proof and dust-tight (with ratings up to IP64 level). They’re adaptable to any environment – inside or outside, in daylight and darkness – without the need for GPS.
Lightweight and easy-to-use, you can walk and survey accessible areas quickly and easily – even those which are normally off-limits. For more confined or unreachable places, they can be attached to trolleys or mine vehicles for remote monitoring.
“It’s critical data that will help us lower the risk to personnel and keep mines safer“
David Counter, a senior ground control engineer at the Kidd Mine, emphasised the importance of using a hand-held laser scanning device to map the underground areas at the mine. “It produces a continuous 3D animation image of whatever underground areas are being scanned as the user walks along the drift. This allows the mine to map out problem areas and to carry out ground support rehabilitation in those areas.”
“The ZEB Revo provides a background dataset that can be used for comparative purposes if a future high-magnitude seismic event occurs or for determining how much static deformation has been occurring due to regional mine closure over time.”
Despite needing to rapidly map mines under intense time constraints, traditional underground survey techniques have proved to be slow. Mine engineers and surveyors all need access to user friendly technology that is easy to install and use, but is robust and reliable enough to do the job quickly and accurately. Within minutes anyone can be using a GeoSLAM scanner and immediately start creating a 3D point cloud of the area. Data is collected continuously while walking the survey area – with no time-consuming or cumbersome set-up required.
GeoSLAM’s award-winning software instantly turns data into actionable 3D information. So, you can rapidly gain insight into rock mass behaviour and map out deformations in rock walls & complex tunnel profiles. Plus, accelerated survey workflows help you deliver productivity and efficiency improvements, at the same time as helping you hit your zero-harm targets.
“There is a sound basis for SLAM laser technology to define areas where the ground support systems need to be replaced or rehabilitated,” Counter concluded.