Buoyant Aircraft Access Solutions for Mineral Exploration Projects
Mr Colin Morrish, Dr Barry EverettPrentice
As the more easily accessible mineral reserves in the world are being depleted, new deposits will be necessary to develop in areas that are more difficult to access. The transport of goods and personnel to locations beyond the established transportation infrastructure imposes additional costs on exploration and extraction. The introduction of a new generation of cargo-carrying buoyant aircraft (airships and hybrid aircraft) could provide a solution. While relatively large buoyant aircraft (greater than 50 tonnes lift) may be necessary to carry mineral concentrates, exploration drilling projects could benefit from short-term logistical support in a lower weight range. This could fit the first buoyant aircraft being developed that will lift between 15 and 25 tonnes. In addition to lowering direct costs, buoyant aircraft could avoid the indirect costs associated with the potential environmental damage and safety hazards created by bush roads. This paper outlines the current developments in buoyant aircraft and the fit for the logistical requirements for exploration equipment movement and camp development.