Russian nickel producer Nornickel’s Komsomolsky Mine has tested a new model of aerial drones with laser scanners. Specialists from the Department of Mineral Resources, together with the Polar Division’s Mine Surveying Centre, tested a Chinese model of an industrial quadcopter. The advantages of the tested model include the ability to attach a lidar scanner, video camera, thermal imager and even an echo sounder. The echo sounder can be used to survey the bottom of an impounded tailings dump at depths of up to 100 metres to measure the volume of metal-containing concentrate. This method will increase the reliability of the surveying measurement and the safety of the work. The lidar scanner allows for rapid surveying and surveying of production facilities over a large area. In the past, surveys used to take a long time and had to be done by two teams of surveyors. Now, in good weather conditions it takes only 10-15 minutes to survey a 2 million cubic metre waste dump. Drones are introduced at Nornickel’s operations as part of the Company’s comprehensive Technological Breakthrough programme to improve operational efficiency, which has been in place since 2015. Norilsk Division has 10 drones in its fleet for underground and surface surveys. Drones are used for autonomous surveying (underground) at complex sites where staff access is prohibited and where there is no direct view: for inspection of cleaning chambers, survey of hard-to-reach workings, ore pits, rock dumps, and under-stocked workings. Photo and video recording allows a quick and detailed view of the state of the mount, the volume of the worked-out clearing space. On the surface, drones are used to photograph mineral stockpiles, rock dumps, metal-containing and watered-out storages.