Calidus and RocketDNA partner to introduce autonomous drones to mine site

Thursday, 28 March, 2024

Calidus and RocketDNA partner to introduce autonomous drones to mine site

Within six months of receiving Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approval to operate autonomous drone products in Australia, drones-as-a-service provider RocketDNA has signed its first long-term contract for its xBot solution with Calidus Resources Limited (Calidus).

The company says that implementation of the xBot solution will revolutionise Calidus’s traditional surveying practices, allowing the WA-based mining company to safely monitor its site from the air, with the drone monitored by a pilot located at an off-site remote operating centre (ROC) in Perth or Adelaide.

The three-year agreement comprises the provision of an autonomous xBot solution featuring:

  • the SurveyBot, a drone-in-a-box surveying system equipped with DJI hardware and monitored remotely from RocketDNA’s ROCs;
  • integration of Strayos AI software for data processing, analysis and automated stockpile volumetric reporting;
  • access to RocketDNA’s SiteTube data visualisation platform, for secure hosting and access to real-time data.

Deployed at Calidus’s Blue Bar pit, a satellite open pit operation located 70 km by road from Calidus’s Warrawoona Gold Project, the SurveyBot system will deliver daily surveys, stockpile volume reports and provide real-time imagery, providing situational awareness to off-site personnel.

This reduces the frequency of, and removes the need for, extensive daily travel by a human to undertake site surveys or to respond to any potentially dangerous emergencies involving Calidus’s infrastructure. It also leverages rapid data processing time and AI insights for mine optimisation and provides oversight of mining operations to remote senior management, according to the company.

“By leveraging our innovative xBot technology and advanced AI-driven software, we are empowering mining companies to optimise their processes while minimising risk to personnel,” said RocketDNA CEO Christopher Clark. “The components within this specific contract also demonstrate the breadth of our product suite and how the different components of xBot, ROC, Strayos and Sitetube can be harnessed to provide an overall solution that will set new standards for efficiency, safety and sustainability in the industry.”

RocketDNA is currently completing the assembly of its first batch of five xBots from in-stock components, one of which has been allocated to Calidus. After site safety reviews and preparation, it will be commissioned within the next three months.

With a strong focus on safety and efficiency, Calidus Resources Managing Director Dave Reeves says the company is currently commencing operations at various satellite pits that are generally smaller in size and do not justify their own survey team onsite.

“The xBot not only allows daily pickups for survey to be completed efficiently, but the associated video also allows our planning team in Perth to understand exactly how the operations are progressing and allow for rapid reaction if required,” he said. “We look forward to partnering with RocketDNA and see great potential for this technology on our other sites as they come online.”

Assembly of the xBot system is conducted in Perth. The system is approximately the size of two pallets, weighs 100 kg and can easily be moved from location to location depending on requirements. The DJI drones have a 7 km range and can be deployed as part of a network to cover large areas.

Image: Supplied

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