Comparative Analysis of Stockpile Volume Estimation using UAV and GPS Techniques
Mining operations involve the extraction of minerals of economic value from the earth. In surface mining operations, overburdens need to be stripped in other to reach the ore. Large volumes of waste as well as ore is stripped in the process. Various technologies have been used to aid in stockpile volume estimation. Notable among them are the Total Stations and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). However, labour, safety and time has challenged the use of these technologies for data collection. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), commonly known as drone is an emerging technology for stockpile volume computations in the Mine. UAV technology for data collection is less labour intensive, safer and faster. Therefore, this study applied the UAV technology in an open pit to estimate stockpile volumes from a Mine. For the purpose of this study, GPS and UAV data were collected for measuring stockpile volumes of materials mined. The actual volumes of stockpiles A, B, C, D (Case 2), produced differences of 0.05% for A, 0.05% for B, 0.08% for C, 0.07% for D and 0.03% for A, -0.03% for B, 0.03% for C and 0.04% for D, for the GPS-based and the UAV-based methods, respectively. The GPS-based technique generated moderate accuracies for volume estimation, but was time consuming and labour intensive, compared to the UAV-based method; which was faster and less labour intensive. The UAV-based method was the most accurate, the safest and is capable of mapping large areas rapidly.