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Copper mine invests in aerial survey tech

a group of men in PPE in front of a mine building with a drone in front of them

AERIAL VIEW The geosurveying team undertaking mapping of areas by drone at the Lubambe copper mine

22nd September 2023


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Copper miner Lubambe Copper Mine (LCM) claims its underground Lubambe mine’s technical services division’s adoption and implementation of an aerial drone-based surveying technology to improve data quality, data collection speed and overall efficiency is a first for a Zambian mine.

LCM’s mine survey section has implemented technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to scan both underground and surface areas for mapping purposes.

According to LCM, the drone hardware and surveillance technology suit the underground and surface environments at Lubambe mine because such equipment is easier, safer and faster to deploy, as well as providing higher resolution that is easier to interpret.

The speed at which the scans are captured and processed reduces risks for the survey team, reduces production delay when capturing the data and improves the response time for mine planning, claims LCM.

Deployed on an enterprise next-level DJI M300 drone, the solution uses real-time kinematic technology – a global positioning system correction technique that provides real-time corrections to location data while the drone is capturing imagery.

LCM says the DJI M300 platform offers enhanced flight performance and unrivalled safety features such as collision avoidance, owing to its ability to “see, sense, move and transform”.

The drone solution is equipped with many sensors that increase functionalities when directed by an operator.

In rolling out drone solutions to LCM, South African mining technology provider Dwyka Mining Services, on July 7, trained 13 Lubambe mine surveyors in various drone programmes, including safe mapping operations using the Pilot Assist Module for underground and surface, how to log flights, smart battery management techniques, how to conduct site risk assessments and how to extract and process drone and sensor data.

Lubambe Copper Mine

LCM’s Lubambe mine is a large-scale, operating underground copper mine, which is serviced by an international road from Chingola to Kasumbalesa, in Zambia.

The mine is located on a tenement area of about 228 km2, which is part of the Konkola Musoshi basin, located within Zambia’s Copperbelt region, which hosts one of the largest copper deposits in the world.

The mineralisation is argillite-hosted, grading between 1.5% and 15% copper and varying in thickness, from 2 m to 24 m.

Lubambe copper mine has an established mineral processing plant with a capacity to process up to 2.4-million tonnes of ore a year.

Since resources private equity manager EMR Capital’s acquisition of the 80% interest in Lubambe copper mine, the mine is progressively being ramped up with a target to increase use of the processing capacity of the existing plant.

Mining development is currently being undertaken by contractors, while LCM personnel undertake all stoping operations.

The operation produces a high-grade concentrate averaging 46% copper, sold under offtake agreements to smelters in Zambia.

The mine has a total workforce of about 1 900 full-time-equivalent employees of whom about 1 100 are employees of LCM.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer



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