Using drones to map The Big Nickel: the world’s largest coin

December 22, 2016
The Big Nickel
The Big Nickel

The Big Nickel is the world’s largest coin weighing close to 13 tonnes. It is more than 64.5 million times the size of the standard Canadian five-cent piece, and stands proudly marking the location of Sudbury, Ontario. The monument symbolizes the great history and wealth of nickel production in the area.

With an office in Sudbury and a history of supporting local nickel operations for major mining clients, Hatch was recently selected by owner Science North to map the monument from top-to-bottom.

Detailed drawings are no longer available for The Big Nickel, which was built 52 years ago. Manually mapping the surface would require working at heights. Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) offer a safer, more flexible solution for highly accurate data acquisition. 

“By pairing the latest advancements in UAVs with different sensors, we can quickly gather information in a cost-effective and more importantly, a safer manner,” comments Pierre Filiatreault, Hatch’s in-house UAV expert, also local to Sudbury. 

Hatch is a holder of a Special Flight Operating Certificate which allows the use of drones for commercial services. Drones are very agile, especially on challenging sites, but before taking any flight both regulatory approvals from Transport Canada and permission from the land owner are required. 

Filiatreault spent only two hours on site, collecting hundreds of high-quality images used to produce an accurate 3D model of the Big Nickel and surrounding area. Hatch was chosen for the project because of our turn-key services, our technical background, and our ability to provide immediate analysis and results. 

“Drones are a state-of-the-art technology that provides substantial benefits across a wide range of industries. Hatch is continually investigating opportunities to utilize new technology to enhance our services and continue to add value to our clients’ projects," adds Filiatreault.