Mapping the mines with technology
Through LiDAR scanning, or measuring distances with lasers, the Pe’ers and their employees were able to produce a 3D map and model of the area, revealing untouched tunnels in the Dahlonega mines. Nir Pe’er said the LiDAR device sends a powerful laser beam to a target area and measures the reflection with a sensor. The information gathered can then be used to provide a 3D representation of the space.
“LiDAR scans are known for accuracy and speed,” he said. “Instead of having a crew there to measure each wall and each area, where they might take weeks or months, with LiDAR scanner, we did it in less than an hour.”
Harbert said before Nir and Amanda Pe’er conducted their project, the only data about the property’s layout came from old journal entrees from mine engineers, which are kept in the Consolidated Gold Mine’s historical collection.
“This is the first time it has been mapped,” he said. “Several of the documents say things like ‘There’s a shaft 300 feet from the corner of this building.’ But that building is no longer there. We had to guess and estimate.”
Nir Pe’er said he started the project in June and ended in late August. Because of his team’s success, he said they were invited to return and uncover more untouched territory later this fall.
“The entire purpose of (the) project was to document, record history and to give them the tools and data to come up with a future plan to accomplish what they want to do,” Nir Pe’er said. “Dathan and his guys were absolutely amazing. They supported everything and helped with everything.”
Harbert and his staff guided the Inspired Intelligence group into the mines, taking them to areas inaccessible to the public. After a couple of scouting sessions, they were let loose to perform their work.
Nir Pe’er said his day-to-day work mostly entails flying drones for customers and offering LiDAR scanning of building or properties, including historic sites. Until June, he said he had never tackled anything near the scale of the mine-mapping project.
While underground, he said most of his work was conducted in complete darkness. He walked through parts of the mines blocked off to the public, sometimes perching on slippery boulders while manning his drones.
“We were dealing with humidity, water that was dripping all over the mine and mud,” Nir Pe’er said. “We were in areas that nobody has visited for generations. This was an unusual environment to work with. We had to deal with limitations of the equipment.”
He said the LiDAR scanner had to stay at a level position when operated, and on a few occasions, his team had to crawl on their knees to complete the scan. With the flying drones, he said some portions involved operating a machine without seeing it. Luckily, none of the equipment was harmed, but Nir Pe’er said he did have his fears.
“We definitely took a big leap of faith to do the project in such an environment on such a large scale,” he said. “But we do what we love. We’re very passionate about this.”