Water Sampling with Drones

Hatch is Using Technology to Reach New Depths

Pit lake water sampling is a treacherous, high-risk activity commonly performed by environmental staff at active mine sites around the world. Risks include falling from heights, rock falls, landslides, tsunami, hypothermia, and drowning. Last year, employees from the technology and water groups at Hatch, a leading engineering firm, came together to develop a more innovative process for collecting water samples from flooded pits, tailings ponds, evaporation ponds, and other water bodies, in order to keep staff safe from hazardous risks associated with this task. Pierre Filiatreault, UAV services lead at Hatch explains, "In our line of business, using UAVs can significantly reduce the potential risks associated with hazardous tasks we are faced with. In most cases, UAVs can also collect information more efficiently and at a lower cost. We knew that by incorporating new technology, we could find a better method that supports our core safety values.”

Pierre Filiatreault piloting the M600 over the flooded Pamour Pit in Ontario, Canada.

Up to the challenge, Hatch developed a device which easily attaches to a  DJI Matrice 600 aerial platform to enable the collection of water samples, avoiding the need for mine personnel to access the water surface all-together. Hatch received a Provisional Patent for the attachment from the US Patent Office in 2016, and filed for a full US patent plus a provision patent from the international Patent Commission Treaty (PCT) this May. Last month, a team of Hatch employees did something that has never been done before. Using this technology, they collected water from a flooded mine pit at a depth of 80 meters without crossing the pit perimeter and without floating on the surface using a boat—setting a world record. Sampling took place at the flooded Pamour and Owl Creek pits near Timmins, Ontario, Canada.

Water sampling UAV in action, collecting a sample at a depth of 80 meters​

The drone collected the water sample and the team was able to quickly analyze it for pH, iron species, and total arsenic using Hatch’s mobile water testing lab. Combining all of these technical capabilities, we were able to provide the client with immediate interpretations of the results, while eliminating an enormous amount of risk. In total, six 1.2 liter samples were collected from shallow, middle, and bottom depths along with three in situ profiles of temperature, electrical conductivity, and density. “This is a great example of how UAVs are a disruptive technology, that can provide substantial improvements across a wide range of industries. Hatch is continually investigating opportunities to utilize new technologies to enhance our services and continue to add value to our client’s projects," continued Filiatreault.

Team photo (left to right): Stephanie Thibeault (Goldcorp ‐ Porcupine Gold Mines), Brian Straight (Hatch ‐ Fort Collins), Jacqueline Varey (Hatch ‐ Burlington), Pierre Filiatreault (Hatch ‐ Sudbury), Londie Cameron (Goldcorp ‐ Porcupine Gold Mines), and Devin Castendyk (Hatch ‐ Fort Collins)

Where to Learn More:

  • Learn more about Hatch
  • Read how firms have used DJI drones to suppress agricultural pests
  • Read our case study on how farmers have saved money using DJI drones for remote sensing
  • Subscribe to DJI Enterprise’s newsletter to stay tuned with the latest commercial drone news

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