The mining industry is an industry where drones have many different practical applications and few regulatory problems. Which is why the mining industry is soon going to be employing many drones to increase efficiency and decrease costs. This industry is similar to the agriculture industry when it comes to using drones, it gains most of its benefits not from the drones itself but from the data that the drones provide mining companies.
One main application of drones in the mining industry is inspection of power lines. Already a company called Rio Tinto is using drones to inspect their power lines. The reason for this is that power lines between mining sites can be up to 400 miles long. This area is usually uninhabited and has no proper roads. Which is why often until now people in jeeps or helicopters had to be sent out to inspect these lines. Renting a helicopter can cost up to $2,000 an hour compared to $200 an hour for a drone as well as a few operators. Therefore, Rio Tinto has started to use drones which can be sent out to inspect power lines, reducing its operating costs. Another application of drones in the mining industry is the ability to show where minerals are located underground and then use the data provided to show the best place to put explosives. This placement of explosives makes the extraction of minerals the easiest possible and uses the least amount of explosives possible. Which decreases the costs of buying explosives as less is needed and also makes the extraction of minerals easy so that it can be done in the shortest amount of time, increasing efficiency. Drones can be used to track stockpiles in mines and use this data to provide the most cost effective method to mine. They can also be used to explore mines, although this technology is still very exploratory and will not be seen during most of the economic impact on mining by drones. Instead of humans, drones will be able to tell if there are minerals worth going for in a particular place in a mine or not. This would have the potential to massively reduce the amount of labor needed in mines and also hugely decrease operating costs of mining firms. Which would allow them to have a bigger profit margin and mine in places that were previously economically inefficient for mining.
Overall the mining industry has a lot of drone potential and should be affected by drones but for full effect it will require more development in technology and more mining firms that are willing to try out experimental mining drone technologies. However even with the current state of technology, mining should be positively affected by the entering of drones into this industry
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