RRC Earns National Mine Award for Drone Training Program

April 26, 2022

AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission’s Surface Mining and Reclamation Division (SMRD) has earned national recognition for excellence for its drone training program – training that highlights safety and operational efficiency.

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission recently presented the RRC with its National Mine Safety and Health Training Award in the State Category for Coal Surface Mining during its annual meeting. The IMCC, which comprises 26 states, noted that the RRC promotes “a safe work place within the Lone Star State’s mining industry through innovative and effective training programs.”

The award recognized RRC video training that highlights SMRD’s use of drone technology in the field, including pre- and post-flight procedures, drone inspection efficiency, how drones and maintain safe distance between multi-ton mining equipment and inspectors.

“We are extremely honored to receive this award,” said Brent Elliott, RRC’s Director of the SMRD. “We are not just committed to adapting new technologies that improve on our ability to protect public safety and the environment, but the award shows our willingness to share what we know to help both industry and regulators alike.”

Jason Corley, Manager of SMRD Inspection and Enforcement, credits Inspector Cade Harris for putting the training together using video conference software.

SMRD, which has three drone pilots, has been using drones since July 2020 and have logged more than 100 mission flights.

“Drones have made a portion of what our inspectors do much more efficient than in recent times,” Corley said. “For instance, in collecting annual regrade lines and suitable material haulback placement progress – a task that could take half of an inspection – drones can now be flown effortlessly in mere minutes versus the hours of work it used to take. They allow us to see the big picture of ground conditions in a bird’s eye view.”

About the Railroad Commission:
Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including almost 100 years regulating the oil and gas industry. The Commission also has jurisdiction over alternative fuels safety, natural gas utilities, surface mining and intrastate pipelines. Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. To learn more, please visit https://www.rrc.texas.gov/about-us/.