UAV uptake saves miners

22/10/2015 - 11:54

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Two Western Australian organisations have become the second and third in the nation to secure unmanned aerial vehicles its manufacturer says can fly 300 per cent longer than its competitors’.

FLIGHT: Astron managing director Will Wishart (standing, second from left) and general manager geospatial Sam Atkinson (holding UAV) with members of the geospatial team.

Two Western Australian organisations have become the second and third in the nation to secure unmanned aerial vehicles its manufacturer says can fly 300 per cent longer than its competitors’.

Astron, ranked fourth on BNiQ list of environmental services providers (based on number of local environmental staff) has become the first organisation in WA and the second nationally to buy a state-of-the-art BRAMOR rTK, following previous purchases of Sensefly Ebee unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Australian distributor of the Slovenian BRAMOR product, Synergy Positioning Systems, told Business News an unnamed WA business had also put in an order for what will be the third Australian UAV system of its type, believed to cost around $100,000.

Manufacturer C-Astral told Business News it had sold more than 1,000 BRAMOR rTK UAV systems globally since December 2014.

Last month, Business News revealed using BNiQ data that the slowdown in mining project work had resulted in a 26 per cent fall in the number of environmental professionals employed at the state’s biggest consulting firms over the past year.

Astron general manager of geospatial Sam Atkinson told Business News while jobs had been lost in recent years, in particular those related to baseline survey work for new projects, UAVs were not being used to replace existing workers.

“It’s very much disruptive technology, but at the same time it’s the way of the future,” Mr Atkinson said.

“The state of the (mining) industry at the moment ... it’s highly pressured, so we see it as a mechanism for them to continue to manage their land as best they can.

“As we’ve embraced remote sensing through a number of aspects of our business – vegetation monitoring, biological surveys, etc – it hasn’t impacted our staff numbers it’s just changed the focus of individuals and allowed us to deliver more, relevant information to industry for a lower cost.

“One of the real issues, particularly for the gold mining sector, these are clients with multiple small pits and rehabilitation areas on their leases. At the moment the cost of rehabilitation monitoring is a little bit cost prohibitive to do it as regularly as they’d like to and give a depth of information that’s really useful to them, so we see this as ... (having) environmental advantages, allowing the sector to actually afford to better manage their land.”

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