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18 unmanned systems inside December 2016/January 2017 AIR MINING of the features she'd like it to have, which in- clude something that's battery-operated, user friendly, easy to maneuver and transport with the ability to easily change out different types of sensors. "I'm sure we're only scratching the surface of what this technology can do," Carter said. "There's the potential to have better mine maps and to observe reclamation areas that are dif- ficult to get to. That's timesavings as well as safety. I don't think there are any limits to what we will be able to do with this technology." Other Applications Until recently, Allen and the Barrick Gold mines only f lew visible light, photogrammetry cameras on their drones and focused on cre- ating 3-D models and orthophoto mapping. While he hasn't had a chance to f ly it yet, he recently invested in a DJI Inspire with a FLIR thermal camera—which has opened up a host of new opportunities. Allen intends to use the thermal camera for infrastructure inspection, to identif y hot spots on stockpiles (which could lead to sulfur self-combusting and turning to toxic gases) and to help with wildlife pres- er vation, A llen said. The Sage Grouse, a threatened bird species in Nevada that may soon end up on the endangered list, often nests near one of the mine sites. These nests show up as hot spots, so if they use a ther- mal camera, Allen and his team will know exactly how many there are and from there determine how best to manage them. UAS equipped with thermal cameras could also help monitor pipelines that run from the processing plant to the storage facility to pick up leaks. While there's plenty of opportunity and po- tential applications, Allen sees thermal cam- eras offering the largest benefits in infrastruc- ture inspection, he said. "Instead of having a substation, a trans- former or one of the electrical power lines fail, we can find problems before they happen, which eliminates downtime," Allen said. "Ev- ery hour we're not producing costs us money because that's gold we're not getting. It also A Baseline Mines tend to be built in remote areas that aren't heavily populated, Iain Allen of Barrick Gold said, but the potential for work often attracts more people to the area once the mine is functional. He's been in some areas with populations that have grown from 3,000 to 25,000 people with no infrastructure for sewage or water. "There's a defi nite environmental impact when that many people accumulate," Allen said. "It's something we can now quantify and address. We're just scratching the surface of all the value of looking at how things change through the course of a mine. This technology gives us a baseline before we build so when we close the mine we know where we started. The goal is to return the area to where it was before." The Airobotics industrial drone has been used in a variety of mining applications. Photos courtesy of Airobotics and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement The drone from Kespry.