A high-speed 4G network from China Mobile has been installed in an iron ore mine at 500 m deep in central China’s Hubei Province to improve mining safety and production efficiency, according to state news agency Xinhua. “Miners are able to send photos, videos and voice messages from underground via [the] 4G network, so that experts can give instructions and solve problems from the control centre,” said Sun Baoping, an engineer at Chengchao mining company, which is a subsidiary of Wuhan Iron and Steel Group.
Most Chinese mines currently use 2G networks for underground telecommunications, which cannot meet the needs for the use of more information technology in the mining industry, Baoping said. Sealed barrels were used to contain optic cables to avoid spark-triggered explosions in gas-rich mine shafts, and antennas were integrated and kept in remote radio units to stay away from dusts and enhance signal, said Zhang Liang from China Mobile’s Ezhou City branch. So far 4G signals have covered three tunnels of the iron ore mine, providing better telecommunication service, improving the efficiency of production and emergency rescue, and facilitating the use of “intelligent mining” technology in the future, Baoping said.