UAV Surveys Argyle Diamond Mine in Australia

by | Sep 11, 2014

East Kimberly Region, Australia/Kassel, Germany, Sept. 4, 2014”CADS Survey, an Australian supplier of marine, pipeline, and civil surveying services, C.R.Kennedy & Co, a national importer and distributor of surveying equipment in Australia, and the German drone manufacturer Aibotix surveyed one of the world's largest diamond mines with the Aibot X6 UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). Hereby they successfully executed a so called negative waypoint flight, 100 meters below the pilot's position.

The aerial survey of the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia meant an interesting challenge: Equipped with a high-resolution digital camera, the Aibot X6 did not only have to vertically photograph the flight from an angle, but had to execute a negative waypoint flight as well. This means that it had to follow a route previously planned on a computer, running 100 meters below the pilot's position.

The UAV covered almost 100 hectares of the 300 meters deep mine and captured high-resolution pictures in eight flights. Each of them with a flight duration of 10 to 15 minutes. The hereby collected data were further processed into an orthophoto, a point cloud and a 3D model, all with a Ground Sample Distance (GSD) of 2 to 6 cm.

Sam Van Eldik, Survey Division Manager for Civil and Aerial at CADS Survey, was impressed by the accuracy of the generated data: Using the Aibot X6, we are able to generate data of the open pit mine with an accuracy which would not have been reached with a common airplane.

CADS Survey will continue to work with the senior surveyor from the owner Rio Tinto Limited at their Argyle Diamond Mine, using the Aibot X6 UAV to monitor the mine for subsidence on a monthly basis.


The Argyle Diamond Mine is located in Western Australia in the rugged East Kimberley region. It is owned and managed by Rio Tinto Limited and supplies the largest volume of diamonds, approximately a fifth of the world’s production. The mine consists of an above ground and an underground area. Since the open pit mine cannot be entered below a level of 50 meters, aerial surveying is the only possibility to detect subsidence or other potential dangers to the workers underground at an early stage.

Technical Details

  • Camera: Nikon Coolpix A
  • Sensor resolution: 16.2 Megapixel
  • Flight height: -100 m to +150 m
  • Image overlap: about 60% – 90%
  • Ground Sample Distance (GSD): 2 cm – 6 cm

Data Processing

  • Synchronization of the GPS information with the images shot by Aerial Image Manager for a fast post-processing
  • Further processing with photogrammetry software Agisoft PhotoScan

About CADS Survey

CADS Survey is a leading supplier of marine, pipeline, and civil surveying services to the mining and oil & gas industries both nationally and internationally. Since 2007, CADS Survey has provided highly accurate surveys for some of Australia's largest construction projects. The company's 100% safety history and extensive industry experience has made it one of the country's leading surveying companies.¨More information on

About C.R.Kennedy & Co

C.R.Kennedy & Co is the largest national importer and distributor of surveying equipment in Australia, and the exclusive distributor for leading brands such as Leica Geosystems, Riegl, Pentax, Myzox, and many more. With offices and service centers in most capital cities, the company can offer a service that matches the caliber of the brands it carries.

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About Aibotix

Aibotix develops and manufactures high quality and intelligent UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) for applications in the industrial sector. The company’s name encloses AI for artificial intelligence and BOTIX for robotics. Aibotix is represented around the globe. With 200 annually produced UAVs, the company belongs to the 5th largest producer. ¨Aibotix is part of Hexagon (Nordic exchange: HEXA B), a leading global provider of design, measurement and visualization technologies that enable customers to design, measure and position objects, and process and present data. ¨More information on


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