Digitising Mining in Sub-Saharan Africa via Multi-Orbit Satellite Solutions
Scarce resources, uncertainty around commodity prices, and the need to stay competitive are just some of the challenges faced by today’s mining operations. As the mining industry looks to forward-thinking solutions to overcome these challenges in a rapidly changing market and increase profitability, the ability to organise, manage, and process data whenever and wherever, is a today’s competitive differentiator.
Improving efficiencies to reduce costs
Our customer with gold-mining operations in remote areas of Sub-Saharan Africa was looking to increase efficiencies, in order to mitigate the impact of the gold prices decline on their revenues. Advanced digital and automated mining technology can now allow mining operators to significantly reduce their operational costs, and our customer wanted to implement such an innovative digital solution. It would help streamline and optimize processes and improve profitability. The challenge that was left to solve was getting a reliable and stable network connectivity - a non-trivial challenge in this very remote operational area. That’s where the SES’s fully managed connectivity service came in.
Flawless connectivity in landlocked locations
This particular region of Africa is landlocked and is far removed from urban infrastructure, presenting also such challenges as lack of electricity. Any potential solution we set up needed to ensure around-the-clock network connectivity despite this.
We designed a solution tailored to the customer’s requirements and given environment, that comprised of five big trunks to digging areas, and initially included GEO-based fully managed service. This allowed 250Mbps-integrated connection to the customer’s European headquarters. The corporate network was also integrated with another geostationary bandwidth pool shared to their exploration sites.
But some applications in mining are latency sensitive, and on top of this we just wanted the customer to be able to avail of the speeds comparable to fibre! The solution to this was to take advantage of SES’ multi orbit fleet and services, introducing O3b MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) capability into the mix. We eventually added a MEO solution to several sites in Africa. The deployed SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network) chooses the available and adequate transmission channel the application requires. This way, the mining company has a hybrid solution that ideally utilises a mix of technologies.
Accessing data across the entire mining value chain
Enabled by a combination of low-latency high-throughput MEO and GEO wide-beam assets, our mining customer now has access to tailored, managed data services capable of transforming operations and improving productivity in remote locations. This means they can leverage data from across the entire mining value chain and improve planning, control and decision-making, no matter where the operations are located. The connectivity we brought jointly with SES made this difference! It is also future proof, as it allows usage of various applications, depending on the customer’s growing requirements and changing business environment.