Mining surveyors are an integral part of any underground or open cut mine operation. They are on board the project from the moment it starts, helping with tasks included in the original site exploration. They continue on the project giving support not only during the construction phase of the mine but also during the continuous project as well as during the end rehabilitation phase.
Importance of High-Quality Mine Surveyors
The mining surveyor (or sometimes even multiple surveyors) are on the forefront when it comes to keeping a site safe. It is up to the mining surveyor to locate any hazardous hurdles such as unidentified underground water sources. Due to their importance on the site, they are required to be registered, which is an extensive testing process to make sure the surveyor can accurately do their duties.
While mining surveyors create plans and maps for the mine, they also help assess the environmental impact of the mine as well as the risk. This can help decide whether or not a project is even viable before it starts, ending a disastrous project before it even begins. Aside from these critical measurements, they also can assess potential economic investment and production.
As the project continues, the surveyor will make sure to continue to update the map of the mine. This includes the underground mine itself, as well as any structures on the site. They use their measurements mid-mining project to help calculate the eventual production and earnings of a site. They also measure the amount of minerals taken from the mine.
Once the project is over, they will work with professionals within the engineering and environmental industries to help restore the site and provide avenues for any residual waste to be removed. They help with the removal of any structures, and in making sure everything is resolved safely and in an environmentally conscious manner.
Tools of Mining Surveyors
While specialised mining surveyors employ a vast plethora of tools, a few are more common than others.
- Aerial Photography – Like laser scanners, there are quite a few different kinds of aerial photography that can be used. There is traditional aerial photography, unmanned aerial photography, and satellite imagery. While satellite imagery is much different than the other two and often used only to find viable sites, it is still a valuable tool, and it is being used in increasingly technical ways. Both primary types of aerial photography are used to create things like 3D models, as well as making high-quality orthophotos.
- Laser Scanners – There are three main types of laser scanners, portable, airborne, and terrestrial. Portable laser scanners are handheld and lightweight, and great for difficult mining situations where the more bulky laser scanners may end up a hassle. Airborne laser scanners use airborne platforms. Terrestrial laser scanners are very commonly used and can measure any spatial changes within a mining environment.
- Modelling and Geomatics Software – There are many suites made specifically for mine surveying that help mining engineers properly create and assess imagery, 3D models, scans, and infrastructure. There are endless choices for 3D rendering software, and also applicable engineering software.
While all of this may seem like a lot for surveying, it is of the utmost importance that it is done accurately and precisely. It is vital for the project to have all of these metrics correct for not only the profitability but the safety of everyone on site as well.