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We’re building one of the world’s largest underground LTE networks for digital mining

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 4, 2019

3 min read

We want to use the vast array of technology at our fingertips today to help businesses be more productive and efficient. That’s why we’re excited to announce a new partnership with South32 for a private 4G LTE network at their North West Queensland mine.

Right now, we’re in pre-deployment stage at the South32 Cannington underground silver, lead and zinc mine.  The network will drive improved safety, automation and mechanisation at the site and will connect staff to vehicles and sensors around the mine at all times.  The high throughput and low latency offered by the system means that staff will be able to control critical equipment without interruption, and South32’s digitalisation strategy will be achievable throughout the mine.

By adopting 4G LTE underground, the Cannington mine will be able to achieve better operating transparency, condition monitoring and production improvements for staff, machines and other mining systems, driving safety, productivity and efficiency.

We’ll be building an initial underground network 6.5kms in length using a private, virtualised core and LTE radio technologies distributed over leaky feeder cable using LTE-capable bi-directional amplifiers. Our analysis indicates this to be the most effective solution for underground miners and is capable of adapting to the unique geology and composition of the Cannington mine.  It enables access to the latest advances in 4G LTE and NB-IoT, and is also upgradeable to 5G in the future.

The network being private means that it will be a completely standalone mobile network, independent from others, like Telstra’s own public network. South32 Cannington will have its own equipment, SIM cards and unique network codes for full autonomy and complete control.

Providing a modern connectivity platform will allow for more flexible operations as well as scalability and choice in applying various digital solutions. The combination of Ericsson mobile network equipment, Telstra radio spectrum, and leaky feeder solutions from specialist manufacturer METStech provides a unique capability that has made extending LTE underground a more commercially realistic and safer prospect.

At its full deployment, it’ll become one of the largest underground mining LTE networks in the world using leaky feeder. We’re excited to help drive South32’s Cannington mine further with this new private network, as it looks to pay dividends to safety, productivity and more.

If you want to catch a glimpse of the technology behind this build, make sure to visit the Ericsson stand at Telstra Vantage in Melbourne on 4 and 5 September.