The Australian Government will invest over A$1 million dollars into drone technology designed to complete environmental mapping works ahead of mining projects to ensure the safety of national miners and minimise the environmental damage of mining operations.

The money will be invested into Western Australian business Emapper as part of the Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) Growth Centre Ignited Project Fund. More than $7m will be spread across a total of eight projects, with the Emapper project receiving A$1.2m of government funds and a further A$1.2m from industry investment.

METS Growth Centre Ignited CEO Ric Gros said: “Opportunities for the sector to band together and innovate are vital to the growth of the sector. Facilitating such innovation is part of the mandate for METS Ignited, and the recipients of this round will be making invaluable contributions to the mining and METS sectors through their initiatives.”

The drones are designed to collect a range of data from potential mine sites and combine this with existing information on the regions, in order to determine the optimal areas to begin mining operations. This enables fast and efficient data analysis, as well as removes the need for human workers to spend long periods of time in adverse environments such as the Pilbara region of Western Australia, which is home to 27 species of venomous snakes.

Data is stored on a mobile app known as Scout provided by Emapper, which automatically checks data to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date.

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The combination of governmental and industry funding means that more than $17m has been provided to recipients of the Ignited Project Fund; other projects to have received funding include software to improve the efficiency of mine truck fleets and battery-powered vehicles for underground mining.

The METS Growth Centre said in a statement: “Collectively, the projects will benefit the mining sector by optimising the value chain, increasing productivity for mining and mineral processing, supporting and enhancing environmental management, and improving operational safety.”

Mining Technology’s Mining Safety content is supported by USA mining safety specialists Carroll Technologies Group.