Evaluation of a drone-based method for safe and cost-effective monitoring of surface water flows in mine recipients


IVL Svenska Miljöinstitutet Stockholm


LKAB, Stockholms universitet

Ida Westerberg



Purpose and goal

This pre-study aimed to test a new method to safely and cost-effectively monitor surface water flows to mine recipients using drone camera techniques. The aim of the pre-study was fulfilled and the tests showed that it was possible to use drones to both safely and cost-effectively gather the data necessary to calculate streamflow time series. The calculated streamflow had good quality for low and middle flows, with further development needed for out-of-bank high flows in vegetated areas.

Expected results and effects

The results from testing the new drone-based method showed that it was possible to model a rating curve using only one calibration gauging and from this curve calculate streamflow time series. The working environment is safer than for traditional techniques as river wading is not necessary. Drone techniques are also more cost-effective as less field work is needed. Streamflow measurement using drone video showed good potential as a cost-effective complement to traditional measurement techniques.

Planned approach and implementation

Input and calibration data to the hydraulic model were collected using drones at three field visits. These data included elevation data with centimeter precision and streamflow measurements with drone video using surface velocity techniques. The drone measurements were compared and evaluated against concurrent control measurements using traditional techniques. Opportunities for future development and use of drone measurements in the mining industry were discussed in the final project meeting.