SIMS project partners Boliden and Ericsson, together with Telia, say they have deployed the world’s first 5G network using New Radio in an operational underground mine, the Boliden Kankberg mine in Sweden.
The deployment comes less than a month since Telia and Luleå University of Technology, in Sweden, inaugurated a 5G-testbed as part of its Wireless Innovation Arena project.
The Kankberg mine is located around 10 km west of the Boliden Area Operations process plant in Boliden, and produces gold and tellurium. The mine has been in production since 2012 and has since then increased the annual production capacity to around 450,000 t. In 2018, the mine produced 456,979 t grading 4.4 g/t Au, 10.7 g/t Ag and 188.3 g/t Te.
SIMS, or Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems, is part of the Horizon 2020 program, the biggest EU-backed research and innovation program ever with nearly €80 billion ($90.1 billion) of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020).
“Productivity and safety requirements are very high in the mining industry. This customer configured network can function standalone, allowing mining operations to continue even if communication is disrupted to the mine,” SIMS said.
The 5G technology is superior to other communication solutions for connectivity in demanding environments like mining and manufacturing where continuous operations and close monitoring of processes are required, according to SIMS. With characteristics like very low response times and the option for local data handling, 5G is the best suited technology to meet the safety and efficiency requirements of the mine, it added.
Magnus Frodigh, Head of Ericsson Research, said: “5G is designed to support industry automation and industrial IoT and will be a platform for innovation in industries. The Boliden underground mine is a great example of a sector with tough requirements that will benefit immediately. [This technology]…will ensure connectivity for applications with high performance requirements.”
Magnus Leonhardt, Head of Strategy and Innovation at Telia, said: “Industry 4.0 is becoming a reality. This is another good example of how 5G can be used to build networks adapted to the customer’s operations. To guarantee safety in the mine, for example, the network must function even if communications to the outside world is disrupted. Reliable communications can now be secured with the network we have built.”
Peter Burman, Program Manager at Boliden, said: “We work actively with robotisation to improve productivity and safety in the mine which requires future proof communication solutions. 5G is an important component enabling advanced automation and by that, a safer and more sustainable mine.”