Modern Mining and the Growing Need for Reliable Connectivity
Breakthroughs in connectivity solutions increasingly enable mining companies to establish reliable global digital supply chains and consistent communications to operate more effectively and efficiently. Now, fully connected, intelligent mining hubs can improve mine performance and operational excellence to drive greater profitability, and create more economic opportunities for the surrounding mining communities.
Key Factors Behind the Growing Demand for Reliable Connectivity in Mines
Africa and the Asia-Pacific region have vast mining opportunities. According to the World Bank, Africa alone holds 30% of the Earth’s remaining resources — the greatest concentration worldwide.
Key factors that are driving the demands for modern connectivity solutions for mining operations across Africa and Asia-Pacific include:
Need for Optimised Operations
Mining companies want to improve profitability, productivity, safety, and resource management. Digital technologies such as automation, robotics, big data, and visualisation can drive better and more cost-effective extraction if they are supported by the right connectivity solutions, wherever the mines are located.
Mining sites are typically in remote and geographically dispersed locations where communication infrastructure is scarce. Many mine operators have to overcome the lack of infrastructure to support greenfield projects and improve existing operations. This creates numerous operational and safety challenges for mining companies to consider.
Remote mines have traditionally invested predominantly in VSAT systems over long operational life cycles. With mine operations often lasting over 20 years, sustainability becomes an issue with that model as legacy VSAT systems now lack the bandwidth and flexibility needed to support modern operational requirements.
Need for remote monitoring and controlling
A machine-to-machine (M2M) network can enable more efficient utilisation of mine resources, equipment, and critical assets if the appropriate connectivity is in place. There is a need for reliable connectivity services that provide the secure, scalable network architecture required to support multiple sensors, M2M protocols, and access to real-time voice, video, and data.
Connectivity is critical for digital transformation for the mining industry. A reliable next-generation connectivity solution addresses these demands.
Connected Mining Solutions In Action
As a forward-thinking mine operator, Newcrest wanted to bring digital solutions to its mining sites, such as sensors, machine-to-machine protocols, real-time voice, video, and data applications — all vital throughout their operations. It faced increasing pressure for broadband to drive its business-critical applications. After both microwave and submarine fibre optic cables were deemed unviable for its remote location, Newcrest did an overhaul to replace its VSAT links. The brownfield mine now runs on SES’s fibre-equivalent MEO connectivity, which quickly turned the situation by:
- Accommodating different operational technologies
- Supporting an SAP system and Office 365 applications
- Being future-proof for emerging digital solutions.
Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project
Ivanhoe Mines partnered with SES Networks in its Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It needed a turnkey network solution that would bring fibre-like connectivity at its greenfield site, and support the latest applications to communicate effectively. Onsite operators gained access to:
- Video-conferencing capabilities to connect with subject matter experts at headquarters
- Cloud-based applications to access and upload critical data, optimising workflows and data visibility
- Opportunities to improve overall productivity and safety
Satellite Connectivity for Modern Mining Operations
Getting the right information to the right people at the right time is critical to modern mining companies. The right network solutions for such endeavours can offer a fast and stable satellite backbone. This ensures digital technologies such as automation, robotics, big data, and visualisation are supported to drive better and more cost-effective extraction no matter where the mines are located. Partnering with a provider that offers managed services, further helps you reduce IT infrastructure costs and lengthy deployments through an OpEx-based managed services model.
If you want to learn more about connected mining features, our experts are happy to help.