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How is mining and surveying linked?

The mining and surveying industries are invariably linked. For years now, geospatial data has informed the process of mining, making it more efficient, safe, and accurate. Surveyors provide indispensable data to mining companies, playing an important and irreplaceable role.

In this article, we look at the history of mining, the history of surveying, and why volumetric surveying, in particular, is important to the current mining industry.

The history of mining and surveying

Both mining and surveying are disciplines that date back to ancient times. The Egyptians are renowned for their mathematical prowess, which can be evidenced in one of the first recorded instances of surveying when they created legal borders along the fertile banks of the River Nile.

The Greeks also played a huge part in the development of the surveying industry, thanks to their fundamental development of the science of geometry.

In fact, they were notorious for their understanding of the astronomical relativity that exists between the position of the stars and determining measurements on the ground and invented the first surveying instrument to reflect this correlation: the diopter.

The diopter is considered the ancient predecessor of the theodolite, which in turn became the total station – a piece of equipment without which surveyors today simply could not do their job.

Mining was championed by the Roman Empire, which used advanced methods and techniques to extract complex minerals like gold and silver. The Rio Tinto copper mines in Spain are evidence of their extraordinary understanding of locating and extracting these natural resources – those mines are still in use today.

What do mine surveyors do?

Mine surveyors are responsible for measuring, representing, and managing data associated with a mining operation. They must also consistently plan the direction of work taking place underground, as well as maintain records on data collected.

Once the substance has been mined, mine surveyors use volumetric surveying to accurately estimate the volume of a stockpile.

This information can be used to conduct volume calculations, both before work takes place (so as to accurately cost the work) and afterwards (to check that the excavated substance is of the correct volume).

What is mine surveying?

Today, mine surveying is its own science. Mine surveyors use modern total stations fitted with electronic data storage systems and laser sighting, as well as GNSS (global navigation satellite systems) to offer unparalleled accuracy and reliability.

There are a number of different surveying techniques used in the mining industry, including:

  • Terrestrial laser scanning
  • Airborne laser scanning
  • Portable laser scanning
  • Aerial photogrammetry
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Volumetric mine and quarry surveys from Landform Surveys

At Landform Surveys, we measure stockpiles using Trimble GPS receivers, as well as Trimble TX8 scanners for those stockpiles which are unsafe to work on. We also use drone technology – both as an alternative to and in conjunction with traditional volumetric mine surveying methods – to deliver a highly accurate service.

Our surveys offer an independent measure on quantities to be referenced by quarry operators and sub contractors. Interested? Get in touch with a member of the team today to discuss your project scale and timeframe. We look forward to working with you.