Krassimir Iankov
Director General
Sistemas Avanzados y Proyectos (SAP)
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View from the Top

Airborne and Mobile Laser Technologies for Mining Projects

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 16:00

Q: What significant projects has SAP completed and what is the company currently working on?

A: A few years ago, we were part of a large project of over 200km2 in the Oaxaca state for an important Canadian company with a subsidiary in Miami. That has been our most significant mining project thus far. Today, we are engaged mostly in a number of projects with less extension area for mining companies around the country, including Industrias Peñoles in Chihuahua. Fortunately, our technology is applicable to a wide range of markets so we do not operate exclusively in the mining sector. We have also worked with well-known transnational companies from Canada, the US, Spain, Italy and Brazil for large-scale projects, including pipelines, power lines, highways and roads. Summarizing, our company has completed work on over more than 30,000km of large-scale corridor projects, and more than 500,000km2 of different scales for polygon projects.

Q: How is SAP incorporating new technologies into its portfolio?

A: Our current hardware and software installation includes integration of first-class laser and image sensors from different manufacturers to inertial systems (GPS/IMU) installed over a single engine Cessna aircraft (Applanix and SPAN Inertial Systems to RIEGL laser sensors and large- format geosystem pushbroom sensors); small, accurate systems integrated for UAV such as Velodyne and STIM- IGM-S1; state-of-the-art dual mobile laser system LMX-1HA integrated with Applanix; and the LadyBug 360° image sensor with five cameras. These integrations include the most upgraded software, such as TopoFlight, POSPac, Inertial Explorer and Terrasolid, as well as our own software to coordinate transformation of the points cloud from UTM to a local survey system.

We have also incorporated infrared cameras and LiDAR advanced photogrammetry technology into our designs, which offer highly accurate georeferenced images, but we will add hyperspectral and thermal imaging technologies to our portfolio as soon as possible. These techniques will help us consolidate our position as leaders in digital elevation model generation, and will also help our customers measure the surface temperature of a given area to detect a gas leak. Other relevant services we provide are karstic maps, sustainability appraisal, land-use maps and archaeological prospection. All these give us an important edge over competitors using less sophisticated technology. Simple drones used in mining projects are equipped with commercial image sensors from providers such as Nikon and Sony. Although quality cameras, these are not photogrammetric and lack the same level of precision we offer. The most important factor for companies working in the mapping and modeling segment is accuracy, and SAP offers very accurate final products.

Q: In which ways do you work with public institutions like SGM to improve geological mapping tools and databases?

A: The service provided by SGM is slightly different. While we offer LiDAR technology for high-density modeling, SGM is using small-scale maps and DTM/DEM from the local Public Geographic Institute. We would be delighted to work with SGM to help boost mapping facilities in Mexico, but we have not seen any published bid from this government agency for which our deliverables would be appropriate.

Q: How can your products and services help companies to reduce operating costs throughout the mining lifecycle?

A: As far as I know there is no other company in the region that can offer the same accuracy (RMS 2.5-3cm) with airborne technology. Our goal – one aerial pass, complete survey work plus additional studies – are extremely cost- effective and accurate. We offer different services for open sky areas, as well as mobile systems for underground and tunnels. Since the Energy Reform in 2014, several Mexican mining companies have been exploring the possibility of entering the energy sector through electricity generation and building their own power lines. SAP can help them make this move. We are offering quick mobilization and a short delivery time for projects around the world.