Robot maps Mexican silver mine

International Mining

Using a unique laser scanning robot 3D Laser Mapping has successfully completed a project to create a 3D map of the San Jose silver mine in Mexico, International Mining reports. The survey, commissioned by Arian Silver Corp, which recently added the brownfield project to its portfolio, enabled further definition of the mine's potential by providing an accurate volumetric calculation of previously worked areas.

The survey has also enabled Arian Silver to replace existing mine drawings with geometrically accurate plans and support operational design and planning as the second phase of drilling commences. Combining state of the art laser scanning units with wireless communications and advanced robotic technology the robot, known as 3D-R1, offers significant improvement in the speed of data capture, the range and coverage of measurements and the safety of survey personnel.

The data capture element of the project was completed in just over three days. Covering 2.2 km of underground drives, stopes and access ramps 3D-R1 conducted more than 80 scans per day collecting an estimated 99.36 million individual data points – more than 5 Gigabytes of data! The raw data was then processed to create a comprehensive 3D plan of the underground mining operation.

The data was delivered to the client in a variety of formats, compatible with leading mine development software packages including Datamine, Micromine and Vulcan, and was in use at the client site in less than a month. The resulting data corresponded exactly with existing topographic aerial photographs and contour maps of the mine site already held in MicroMine.

"3D-R1 is extremely efficient, the speed of data capture is astonishing and the end results far exceed anything that can be produced by conventional surveying techniques," commented Owain Morton, Arian's Mining Engineer. "I estimate that you could employ a mine surveyor for a complete year and not get the same amount of data and accuracy of plans as delivered by the robot. Although 3D-R1 has been used in this brownfield non-operational site I would expect the robot to perform equally as well in an operational production scenario. Due to its speed, agility, size and 'remoteness' 3D-R1 is perfectly suited to fit in to any operating mine schedule, updating weekly or monthly plans in a matter of say two or three shifts."

The 3D-R1 remote operated survey vehicle was developed in partnership with Jobling Purser RSV and was originally designed for use in underground mining operations to reduce the risk to the survey operator and improve operating efficiencies. It was developed from a prototype vehicle first designed by James Jobling-Purser as part of an undergraduate project at the Camborne School of Mines part of the University of Exeter.

3D-R1 is designed to be compatible with the Riegl LMS-Z series of laser scanners. These units comprise of a high performance long-range 3D laser scanner, software and an integrated high-resolution digital camera. The laser transmits a light pulse which is reflected off a surface or feature and bounced back to a receiver. Using the time taken for each individual pulse to be returned and the known speed the system can automatically calculate the distance of the feature from the unit. From this data highly detailed and accurate 3D models can be produced.;