In order to monitor various environmental impacts, gather an accurate elevation model and to provide an up to date ortho-mosaic image of the plant area, NQ UAV was brought in to conduct a surveying operation. The site is operated by Incitect Pivot mining gypsum and phosphates with an onsite plant facility to turn the raw materials into fertilisers ready to be transported to the Townsville Bulk Storage facilities.
The principal area of interest for this aerial surveying was found to be between an old tailings ponds, that had an altitude of approx. 65m above the mean terrain level, and the plant area. Initially the flight plans were made to fly at 78m above the launch location, once an onsite assessment of the area had been conducted it was determined that flying at a high altitude (120m) would need to be done in order to safely fly above flares, stacks and chimneys in the plant area as well as the tall tailings areas. This altitude also allowed us to capture the entire tailings pond without missing out on any data. One of the flights also included operations inside of 3 nautical miles (nm) of The Monument Aerodrome (YTMO) and all operations were in line with the runway (32/14). Being a non-towered aerodrome with low levels of air traffic and aircraft movements, it was easy to conduct the operation without disrupting other airspace users or be an issue for NQ UAV who frequently operate inside of 3nm of the busy Townsville Airport. Communications with other aircraft in the vicinity was successful and NQ UAV was able to ensure that we kept the separation with manned aviation.
The time line was also incredible tight, with only 1 (one) day allowed to lay out GCPs, conduct multiple flights from multiple launch and recovery locations as well as collect the GCPs before packing all the equipment up to load on a flight out of Phosphate Hill to Townsville. NQ UAVs personnel were able to complete the aerial surveying project onsite on time and hand over the data within 2 business days. Images above show some of the lower resolution point clouds and ortho-mosaics that were produced as a result of the aerial surveying mission.