May 17, 2020

Drones in the sky of diamonds: Drones can combat illegal mining in India

Mining technology
Dale Benton
2 min
Drone in the sky of diamonds: Drones to combat illegal mining in India
Unmanned aerial vehicles such as drones, could play a key role in the fight against illegal mining activity, says Indias ministry of mines.

In a note r...

Unmanned aerial vehicles such as drones, could play a key role in the fight against illegal mining activity, says India’s ministry of mines.

In a note released late in 2016, the Ministry of Mines called upon state Government of India to explore the role that drones can play in governing in the mining industry.

In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles are becoming more and more a norm across the industry. Large mining companies such as BHP Billiton or Caterpillar Mining are already investing in drone technology to explore how it can increase efficiency and productivity of mining operations all the while proving a cost-effective measure.

In 2016, drone technology company Airware acquired the drone data analytics company Redbird, which already worked closely with a number of mining companies including CAT Mining – be sure to look out for our exclusive interview with Jonathan Downey, Founder & CEO of Airware in the February issue of Mining Global.

The Ministry of Mines developed the Mining Surveillance System (MSS) in 2016, a satellite-based monitoring system which aims to “establish a regime of responsive mineral administration, through public participation, by curbing instances of illegal mining activity through automatic remote sensing detection technology.”

Following the conception of the MSS, the Ministry of Mines has pulled together a number of explorative uses for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) specifically targeted to the mining industry:

For exploration work:

  • Carrying out initial aerial survey of areas to help the planning stages of exploration activities
  • Physical terrain mapping and segregation of land use
  • Surveying and mapping of forests

For mining, Public Service Undertakings in India:

  • 3D modelling and digital elevation modelling of mines for efficient mine planning
  • Volumetric analysis of the extractions and dumps will not only be helpful for routine automation but also for periodical stock verifications
  • Tracking movements of trucks on the mining site using target tracking feature on drones
  • Reclamation studies using the ortho-photography or LiDARs
  • Lease boundary fixation using the on-board GPS of drones

For States and IBM:

  • Lease boundary verifications and geo-referencing of the leases
  • Carrying out aerial surveys at regular interval to study the difference in patterns which in turn can be used for analysing the mining activities
  • Monitoring of illegal mining activities, even in cases of sand mining
  • Using thermal cameras, drones can also be deployed at night to see if any illegal mining activities/transportation are being carried out
  • Target tracking feature can be ideally used for tracking movement of illegal trucks.


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Get in touch with our editor Dale Benton at [email protected]


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Jun 30, 2021

Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech

Rio Tinto
3 min
Rio Tinto and Alcoa’s JV project ELYSIS has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint

Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production

ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.

The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).

The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.

The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.

ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.

ELYSIS technology at a glance:

  • The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
  • The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
  • In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
  • ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.

ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.

Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.


Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”

Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”

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