Sorrell-Smith Engineering flies LiDAR, Saves Client Resources

Knowledge 20200220

3D mapping with millions of point clouds makes mining project more viable

Engineer Jim Smith, CAD technician Jerrad Burns and surveyor Charlie Patton at Sorrell-Smith Engineering Consultants LLC (2SEC) focus primarily on mining challenges where data acquisition, in particular mining surveys, require fast and accurate results. 2SEC is a full-service engineering design, planning and construction management company located in West Memphis, Arkansas. At one point, Smith and Burns point out, the firm found itself limited by three data collection methods: either their GLS-2000 Scanner, mobile LiDAR or the good old-fashioned conventional survey method. 2SEC’s acquisition of YellowScan’s Vx-20 LiDAR opened new 3D mapping horizons.

U.S Mine area covered by Sorrell-Smith UAV LiDAR mapping flight in November 2019

Recently, one client objective was to obtain a mining plan not only for the life of the mine’s reserves, but to create short 3-year, mid 5-7 year, and longterm 7-plus year plans. For the short term, the intent was to evaluate market sales to meet market demand and to start preparing for the midterm footprint. The midterm would discover more waste areas; it would also reroute streams and mitigate areas moving into the longterm, showing the finished floor across the entire mine at the end of its life.

A comprehensive visual was a must, not only for the client but for 2SEC as well, particularly focusing on the mid-to-long term. This focal point can help reduce cost by virtue of better decision-making over the life of the mine. Putting oneself in the client’s shoes, the company surveys not just the core mine area but also undisturbed adjacent areas with trees that fall within the mining limits or what may be future minable material. The YellowScan Vx-20 provided great features that can help get ground shots under nature’s canopies, and verified the location of the NGS blue line streams and its meandering routes.

(NGS blue line streams are very important especially when they are located within a mining or construction site. These regulated streams cannot have any contaminants, sediment or additional run-off entering into the blue line streams without an approved permit. An unpermitted discharge into the blue line stream can result in fines, penalties, additional restrictions or notice to cease operations until stream restoration is performed or until operations are revised to eliminate the unpermitted discharge. Therefore knowing where these streams are can become critical in the future operation, permitting and remediation of the mine.)

In November 2019, 2SEC flew its missions. The mission parameters included a survey of 193 hectares or 477 acres over 3 days, with 5 days of processing. Data was reviewed with development and quantity calculations over 12 days. Planning consisted of reviewing an existing plan with the client’s team, discussing needs and anticipated sales for development of the updated mining plan. Programs deployed included Applanix POSPac UAV, YellowScan LiDAR CloudStation with photo/Ortho’s ASP Suite, Agisoft Metashape Professional, Terrasolid-TerraScan and TerraPhoto, Virtual Geomatics QC GCP, and Geocue’s LP360 LiDAR extension was also utilized for feature extraction.

Among the 7 flights, flight speed and altitude was 8 m/s at 60 meters from the takeoff point, which was the highest point of the mine. The equipment included the YellowScan Vx-20, Sony A7RIII camera and DJI Matrice 600 drone, Topcon GR-5 Static RTK 1 Sec. The results included 2,770 images and over 89 million points with 10 aerial targets for ground control. The client savings in survey time was 7 days, with an estimated 25-30 days saved in data collection processing time and the RDQC was 30-45 days. Altogether the estimated client savings were $45,000 to $60,000 for surveying and data processing. 2SEC had 10 targets with the results in feet.

The firm found ease of use with YellowScan in terms of equipment and software, data quality, processing speed, low costs, access to survey area and lower safety risks. “With respect to customer support it was our experience that the YellowScan team was a superb team, top-class professionals for solutions for support and workflows,” Jim Smith reported.

“The UAV Yellowscan option provides access to projects that typically would be inaccessible with conventional survey equipment,” noted Jerrad Burns. “The benefit of the UAV LiDAR safely provides significantly more data in a short time frame, especially when working with typically rugged terrain.”

For further information on the benefits of employing LiDAR to survey your region, contact us!

NB: Author Jordan Robert.

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