Attack of the Wedge-tailed Eagles

Attack of the Wedge-tailed Eagles

06th November 2017

Here at Safety Fabrications we’ve been keeping an eye on the use of drones in the construction industry.  It’s a topic that first came to our attention a few years ago when we came across reports that industry influencers were promoting the use of drones to replace work at height inspection work.  Some eighteen months later we published another story on drones which covered developments in the technology and the strict regulations governing the use of UAEs (unmanned aerial vehicles).  As the use of drones increased, we took a look at the benefits of using them in construction  and earlier this year we reported on the fact that the adoption of cool new technology of this sort is likely to encourage more young school leavers to choose a career in construction. 

Now that the use of drones has increased, becoming more widespread, we’re now taking a look at an unexpected development that’s happening as drones come under attack.  No, it’s not World War 3 kicking off – it’s the attack of the native wedge-tailed eagles!  Apparently drones are being used in the Australia by one of the world’s largest mining companies in order to survey territories around gold mines.  Gold mining in Western Australia alone generates more than $10 billion annually.  Rick Steven, a mine surveyor has lost nine expensive drones to eagles, a bird which he has dubbed “the natural enemy of drones”. 

The eagles began attacking the drones that were being used in the surveying activities which led to Steve having to come up with a cunning plan.  He began to disguise his drones as baby eagles.  The camouflage campaign worked for a while and the eagles left the drones alone.  However, once the eagles sussed what was going on, they moved in to attack again.

Each of the drones that were destroyed cost a whopping $20,000 which means that the eagle attacks are having quite an adverse effect on the return on investment for the companies.  Indeed, one company has lost more than $100,000 worth of drones. 

Gold mining activities have resulted in quite a damaging effect on the environment in so many countries.  It’s considered particularly destructive due to the waste involved – to produce enough gold for one gold ring, more than 20 tons of rock and soil are treated, leading to toxic consequences for the surrounding environment.  The waste from gold mining typically contains mercury and cyanide which are used to extract gold from rock.  These neurotoxins persist in the environment, contaminating water supplies and poisoning soil.  Gold mining also released hundreds of tons of elemental mercury into the atmosphere each year.

To demonstrate just how badly gold mining affects the environment, an abandoned gold mine in the USA which was not properly cleaned out resulted in heavy metal mining waste draining into the Animas River and turning it orange.  In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA has reported that 40% of Western US watersheds have been permanently contaminated by mining activity.