Dronedeploy for mining

Looking to use drone technology for mining Vs using a fixed aircraft.
What is the maximum drone range or radius for each mission. What is the maximum altitude and how deep the camera can capture the data.

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Are you a licensed pilot or the equivalent in another country? You should be so for commercial work in pretty much every major country and you would know those answers. You should also know your local bylaws.

What is your location?

Hello Michael,
We are in the mining company in Angola but currently working from home in California due to lockdown on travel . We are currently using the aircraft for the mining survey and we are exploring the drone technology and we will definitely follow the local country by laws. Trying to reach out to OEMs who can provide one stop shop including the drone and software. Your literature does not mention that need to be a pilot to operate the survey with a drone. Any knowledgeable worker at the mines can be trained. Is this correct.

Other questions:

What is the maximum range or radius could cover on site.

How deep is the software/ camera can reach from land surface.

Please let me know if you are the right supplier to work with on this project.


Abdul Bigirumwami

Milbridge SA

Thank you for the detail. Abiding by the Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) regulation requires that you be able to see and navigate the aircraft with the unaided eye so it really depends on your eyesight and also your aircraft. Obviously a larger aircraft can be seen further.

When I fly the Phantom 4 Pro depending on atmospheric conditions my VLOS is 1000-2500ft. The P4P is smaller and white so when it is mostly cloud you get into a light gray coloring and it is easy to lose track of. Alternatively I fly a Yuneec H520 which is larger and orange and VLOS is 2000-3500ft.

The legal altitude limit in most countries is 400ft AGL or above the structure being inspected. Normal mapping altitudes depends on the aircraft’s camera. Most of the quadcopters that the pilots on this forum use are 20MP with a 70-80deg FOV so the best altitude is 150-250ft depending on the nature of the mission. With fixed-wing aircraft you can sometimes get higher resolution cameras and flying closer to that legal limit of 400ft is achievable.

As for turnkey drone mapping solutions that include the hardware I have never seen one for fixed-wing aircraft. Most of them sell you the hardware and software licensing as a package, but they do not do the processing for you.

Could I deduce from what you previously said that you are looking at a fixed-wing and not a quadcopter?

What amount of area would you need to cover in a typical day of flight?

I have flown for several materials providers in our area and with the Yuneec H520 have flown up to 500ac in one day. I choose the H520 for larger projects because of the increased VLOS and the extra 5-10 minutes of flight time. Honestly in my opinion it is superior to the Phantom 4 series in respects to the airframe itself. The camera specs are the same, but it is an electronic rolling shutter whereas the Phantom 4 Pro and RTK models have mechanical global shutters. The Phantom 4 Pro and RTK units have the best integrated camera of any UAV which is why they are so popular. They also have the best array of flight software options.

It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison with fixed-wing as most of them have a standalone camera that can be removed from the airframe and used otherwise. Many of them can use several models of cameras. There are many larger DJI drones that have this functionality like the Matrice line.

All this said I would be willing to bet that you could provide drone services well using select quadcopters. I would also recommend that you not limit yourself by being tied to a solutions provider where you lease/rent the drone hardware. In my opinion here are the best quadcopters for mapping in order of size and cost from smaller to larger.

  1. Mavic 2 Pro (rolling shutter and less wind tolerance) - $1500
  2. Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 RTK (mechanical shutter, better in the wind and slightly more flight time) - $1500
  3. Yuneec H520 and H520 RTK (rolling shutter, much higher wind tolerance, additional flight time and hot-swappable cameras including thermal) - $3500 + additional cost for additional cameras
  4. DJI Inspire 2 (swappable cameras) - $3500
  5. DJI Matrice 200 (Independent cameras) - $7K
  6. DJI Matrice 210/RTK - $10K

This is the best overall drone mapping forum and I am sure there are many more pilots that would be happy to provide recommendations. I will PM you my email address and feel free to contact me any time.

Dear Michael,
Thank you very much for your quick response. Your information was very helpful.

We will be interested in quadcopters and based on your comment the range or radius of the survey will be based on visual line of sight. Not sure of the duration could stay in the air .

For turnkey solution, we would like to get the quadcopter with full package installed and training package. Based on recommendation, we will go with a Yuneec H520 which is larger and orange (better to see ) got a better VLOS (1500-3500ft.). I believe this applies to the range distance or radius around the mine site too. Our largest mine site is around 1,100 Square miles ( 3,000 square Kilometers). Based on Yuneec H520 can calculate how many hours will take.

Other key question still not clear for our data is how deep the camera and applicable software able to survey under the ground ( depth) .

Based on the above , Can you provide the ROM for Yuneec H520 and total package package including support and training .

Thank you and waiting to hear from you.


Could you send me a KML polygon of the area you want to fly? I can configure a flight plan that I think would do well and give you some more accurate statistics.

Here’s an estimate for an H520 setup. Includes extra propellers, dual drone battery charger, spare radio controller battery, extended range RC antenna kit and professional hard case. Additional batteries can be purchased at several places online. The OEM battery that comes with the drone is a 5250maH and gets about 18-20 minutes of true flight times, but I have been purchasing aftermarket 7900maH packs for about $125 that provide around 23 minutes.

As for ROM I have flown mine for a little over two years and approximately 500 missions and all I have done is replace props when I see an sign of wear of damage and cycle batteries about every 50-60 flights. The batteries will last longer than that so that is just a safety and maximum performance recommendation so if you perform 250 flights per year carrying 5 batteries (~2 hours of flight time), you will spend approximately $500-600 per year on batteries if you follow the recommendation. I use my retired batteries for simple aerial pictures, videos and upgrades/calibrations and leave the fresh batteries for mapping.

It is also a good idea to keep an eye on the landing gear latch/clips as part of your daily checklist. I have not had any wear out, but do replace them every six months as it would be a bad part to let fail because of a lack of attention. It would be about $25 to replace all 6. Oh yes and the H520 is a hexacopter…

Personally I would purchase the full kit and an additional airframe as a backup. I would also expense a full setup every two years until you are comfortable with your inventory, also being prepared for growth.

With these recommendations the up front cost would be around $7k inclusive of all the extras and then plan on an annual maintenance budget of $2500 which would allow for fresh batteries each year and a new full kit every two years.

As for this question I am not clear on your meaning. I think possibly you mean getting beyond vegitation, but please clarify? If you mean actually UNDER the ground then that is not possible. These types of drones use photogrammetry for reconstruction of the terrain and is purely surface based. This leads to two terms - Digital Surface Model (DSM) and Digital Terrain Model (DTM). The DSM is the top surface of everything captured. Top of ground, top visible surface of things like trees, buildings and etc. whereas a DTM is model data where all objects above the terrain surface have been stripped off to provide a more realistic topography of the actual land contours.

Thank you Michael for the quick response . I really appreciate appreciate it.
We are in mining business and All along thought the dronedeploy can be used for mining survey ( camera and software). Your message tells me the camera and respected software are not able to read or gather data underneath the surface of the land surface.

Please confirm.

Where is your location. Can we talk.



I am in Texas. I may have some time tonight after 8pm Central US Time or tomorrow after 10am.

I think we may be misunderstanding “underneath”. There are no consumer drones with Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR).

With the Yuneec you would fly using their DataPilot flight software and then upload the images to DroneDeploy as usual.

Let me know what works for you.