5G for Smart Mining
5G for Smart Mining
5G for Smart Mining Featured Content
Why is Mining digging into 5G?
What are the business drivers for mining to dig into 5G?
The mining industry is currently facing several challenges, including finding new sources of ore, managing regulatory risk, reducing environmental impact, sourcing skilled labor, and improving labor safety. To address these challenges, mining companies must digitize and automate their facilities on an industrial scale in pursuit of improved productivity.
A mining decision-maker survey by IDC in 2021 suggests that 86% of mining companies plan to invest in wireless infrastructure within the next 18 months. The majority named 5G their priority due to its lower latency and higher bandwidth. This acknowledges that industry members understand high-performance private wireless networks are necessary for carrying out the vision of Mining 4.0.
Private wireless 5G networks can make mines more productive, efficient, and safer with enhanced wireless broadband, wide area coverage, ultra-low latency, high reliability, and massive machine-type communications. Mine productivity can be improved with better fleet management, real-time asset management, preventative and predictive maintenance, autonomous vehicle management, drone management, and enhanced wide-area communications. Additionally, mines can be made safer with real-time monitoring of air quality and water purity, in addition to detecting and preventing collision of critical moving components on the surface and underground.
Why 5G (vs. LTE and WiFi) for Mining?
Both 4.9G and 5G provide industrial-grade low latency and high-speed connectivity for secure, reliable, and mission-critical data, video, and voice communications and automated applications in underground mines. Since 5G and LTE both have the necessary bandwidth for supporting low-power IoT devices, such as smart sensors, they can support robotic processes and autonomous vehicles both on the surface and underground. This provides reliable fleet connectivity and communications across the entire mine, including the ability to control drones and high-speed robots remotely.
With private 5G wireless technology and its massive machine-type communications, there is no longer any need to question which connectivity solution to use for each task. It can handle all mission-critical applications with lower operating costs via automation and digitalization. In contrast to WiFi, cellular technologies don't need as many 'access points,' which lowers the telecom complexity and footprint in the mine (and subsequently reduces the cost of deployment and operation). Furthermore, this also decreases the likelihood of network outages that could jeopardize worker safety.
What are the top mining deployments using 5G technology?
Ericsson and Becker Mining Systems partner to resell private 5G network solutions for the global mining sector
Ericsson and Becker Mining Systems AG have signed a multi-country reselling agreement to deploy Ericsson private network solutions. The reseller agreement covers many countries, including Canada, the US, France, Germany, Poland, Mexico, and Chile, France, Germany, with plans to expand to new countries. The private 5G network solution covers many innovative use cases in outdoor and indoor environments, integrating with existing business devices, applications, and operations. The solution is transforming the mines with features such as wireless connectivity enabling the automation of ventilation systems, gas monitoring, real-time vehicle and personnel tracking, telemetry of production equipment, and remote control of production equipment. This, in turn, dramatically improves efficiency, economic savings, workplace health and safety, and sustainability practices.
NTT Ltd. partnered with Albemarle Corporation, a specialty chemicals company in lithium, bromine, and refining catalysts, to deploy a pilot private 5G/LTE and WiFi network at Albemarle's lithium mine in North Carolina. Operating mining facilities across three continents, Albermarle needed a network that allowed its global engineers to connect with its technicians for remote site surveys and assistance. However, during Covid-19, it was difficult for global engineers to visit Albemarle's site due to travel restrictions, which significantly impacted the process of decision-making and timing. Using private LTE/5G enables Albemarle to enhance its hybrid working process further and reduce the amount of global travel needed. Albemarle can now use integrated technologies to conduct surveys remotely, provide assistance, and support maintenance activities leveraging NTT's expertise in connectivity. In addition, the private network provides Albermarel with enhanced security, high performance, and coverage to enable IoT devices.
In Finland, Nokia collaborates with Telia and Digita to deploy a private 5G standalone network at Kittilä mine (also known as Suurikuusikko mine). Kittilä mine is one of the largest producers of gold in Europe, owned and operated by Agnico-Eagle Mines Limited. The mine is 900km north of Helsinki and 150km north of the Arctic Circle in Lapland. It spans 192 square km, and ~16km of tunnels are developed each year. The private 5G network will leverage Nokia's Modular Private Wireless (MPW) solution to support above-ground and below-ground operations reaching up to one-kilometer depth. It will also cover an extensive tunnel system in the mine and connect people, equipment, sensors, devices, and vehicles. With the private 5G network, Kittilä mine can process data in real-time to support industry 4.0 use cases such as autonomous vehicles, high-precision positioning, and group communications. As a result, these use cases will improve – mine reliability, worker safety, quality, and operational efficiency.
Rogers Business and Kirkland Lake Gold announced the availability of a 5G Wireless Private Network (WPN) at the Detour Lake Mine in Kirkland Lake, Ontario ("Detour Lake"), Canada's second-largest gold producer. The first of its kind in Canada, Detour Lake is entirely linked over a 5G Wireless Private Network, offering enhanced coverage, end-to-end dependability, full redundancy, and a low latency network across its 80-square-kilometer operation. The Company also revealed that it is constructing eight new wireless cell towers along Highway 652 between Cochrane, Ontario, and Detour Lake, covering more than 180 kilometers. Communications infrastructure that is both reliable and essential will enhance service availability and connectivity gaps in the region. The public network is largely off-grid, with seven of the eight structures relying on wind and solar power for their energy. By summer 2022, the network will be ready and fully accessible. The 5G WPN at Detour Lake Mine gives workers better connectivity, communication, and safety right now while laying the groundwork for a truly scalable network that will power thousands of new solutions in the future. The technologies enable developing of mining-specific solutions, including tele-remote control systems, industrial IoT sensors that give real-time information on operations, drones that may bring goods to the bottom of the mine, future autonomous haulage vehicles, and exploration work. In addition, a digital dashboard will be used to maintain track of all of these apps, allowing for greater efficiency and productivity at the workplace.