Drones delve beneath the surface to aid mining in Northumberland


Family-owned coal mining operator, the Banks Group, has enlisted drone capabilities to rejuvenate its business model.

According to reports, the company, which owns a raft of coal mining sites in Northumberland and in Scotland, has acquired a DJI Phantom 4 Pro to enhance safety and efficiency for areas that are hard to reach by foot.

In order to bring drone capabilities in-house, mining engineer Peter Faraday obtained the necessary qualifications to operate a UAV at a commercial level.

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Faraday told the press: “Air safety is the key issue for any commercial drone operations, especially in locations like Shotton and Brenkley Lane that are close to airports and flight paths, and all the drone flights we carry out are carefully planned with this as our primary consideration.

“The terrain in which we work is naturally very varied and challenging, and there are areas which are very difficult or impossible to reach by foot, which means we can’t get wholly accurate information about them.

“The drone allows us to capture much more information much more quickly than would otherwise be possible, with the visualizations we can then produce providing a huge amount of data from which future site operations can be planned and adapted.”

Gavin Styles, executive director at Banks Mining, added: “We’re continually looking for new ways in which we can operate our sites more safely, efficiently and responsibly, and we’ve quickly seen the benefits of being able to use this technology at Shotton and Brenkley Lane.”

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Emma Calder

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