Mapping Asia’s Largest Copper Ore Mine, Using Drones

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A Czech drone services company, UpVision, has been using UAVs to map the largest copper ore mine in Asia. The mapping mission spanned more than 10km² near the city of Erdenet, Mongolia.

In support of Czech geologists investigating the site, the UpVision team deployed a MAVinci Sirius, produced by the German manufacturer acquired by Intel back in 2016. The fixed-wing drone is known for its durability and ability to withstand challenging terrain – Ideal for flying at altitude above the Mongolian wilderness.

mongolia mapping a mine upvision

Dealing with challenging terrain

The irony is that the mapping team’s greatest challenge was the very terrain they were attempting to accurately capture: uneven elevations made the job more complex than it would normally be. The UpVision team was able to build two tangible results from following the MAVinci flights. First was a detailed digital surface model (DSM) and the second was an orthophoto in different image resolutions.

Because different elevations in the terrain created issues with image overlapping and resolution, the entire mine was mapped in high density with a total of eight flights at different heights and different image resolutions.

“Mapping took place in challenging terrain with large elevations and at an altitude of about 1,400m. In the location near the town of Erdenet there is a strong wind and a lot of dust during the day. In terms of the weather, there can be strong temperature fluctuations in early May, when it is not unusual for snow to fall in the morning and for temperatures to be above 20°C the next day.”

“That is why it was necessary to adapt the flying in the early morning and in the evening hours, and to divide it into several missions,” said UpVision co-owner Jakub Karas.

Read more: Drones in Mining: A Special Kind of Drone for Inaccessible Spaces

Mapping: With a little help from a DJI Mavic Air

upvision mapping a mine in mongolia dji mavic air

A DJI Mavic Air was also used as part of the mission. The tiny drone captured the aerial imagery needed to map the mine’s vertical walls, allowing the team to put together geological measurement drawings.


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