Tag Archives: LTE

Zinkgruvan Mining and Epiroc collaborate on teleremote drilling trial backed by LTE

Zinkgruvan Mining is feeling the effects of teleremote drilling using a 4G LTE network and Epiroc’s Simba E7 rig at its underground base metal mine, according to a case study from the Sweden-based OEM*.

In early spring 2021, Zinkgruvan Mining, working in conjunction with Epiroc and IT, and telecom operator Telia, first connected its Simba E7 rig to an LTE (Long Term Evolution) network. Since then, remote production has taken off like a shot in the areas where the LTE network has been commissioned, according to Epiroc, while acknowledging this is still in trial mode.

The mine has a total of four Epiroc Simba rigs, with, at present, one of these connected via Simba Teleremote, some 350 m underground. In the future, operators may move to an office 800 m underground to get closer to the rig.

“So far, we’ve drilled seven pallets remotely,” Operator, Jocke Lindblad (pictured on the left), said. “It runs very smoothly, and as soon as we find something that doesn’t work, I can call the Epiroc service engineer who has been there from the start.”

Lindblad monitors the rig from a quiet above-ground office, next to a window where daylight flows in.

“I like being down in the mine too, but it’s certainly safer and better for the body to sit here,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to take a coffee break or get a breath of fresh air when I feel like it.”

The fact the operators do not need to drive down into the mine on a regular basis means they can drill an average of four hours more per day, according to Epiroc. In purely technical terms, Lindblad can operate the rig from an office in the same way as he would down in the mine. The screens and levers are the same as on the rig.

“The only difference is that I can’t hear the drill,” Lindblad said. “But you do have to keep a close watch on the measurement values on the display.”

An LTE future

Epiroc said: “Building a dedicated LTE network has been a challenge. It is much harder to bring together a design in a mine than above ground. However, the choice was easy.”

Craig Griffiths, Mining Manager at Zinkgruvan Mining, said the company, a Lundin Mining subsidiary, looked at running automation via Wi-Fi, but decided against this as it wanted the network to work for at least another 10 years and be able to handle the demands of the future.

He is convinced the investment puts the mine in a good position for years to come.

“This will give us better control over our production and reduce our costs,” he said. “It feels really good. But the greatest gain will be in respect of safety, with our employees having to spend less time in the mine.”

No-one to ask

While the Simba occasionally – under Lindblad’s supervision above ground – changes position for a new drill hole, Mattias Dömstedt, Technical Production Coordinator, and Håkan Mann, Project Manager, have time to explain how the technology works, and how the work of installing it has progressed.

“Once complete, the project will have seen about 70 remote radio units, ie transmitters and receivers of radio signals in the LTE network, installed in the mine, providing coverage of around 70 km,” Mann said. “The LTE network will then be extended as the mine expands. The portion of the LTE network currently in operation covers around 15 km.”

By then, hopefully some time in 2022, it will be possible to run another Simba rig by teleremote, provided that RCS4 can be used via LTE, Epiroc said. But Dömstedt, Mann and their colleagues on the project have already come a long way since the very first tests in December 2020, which were designed to show whether teleremote over the LTE network worked at all.

Dömstedt said: “We were in Epiroc’s workshop 800 m down in the mine. We had a remote station in the room next to the rig, and we looked out to see if it was moving around on the rig, and it was.”

The company sees LTE opening further possibilities. For example, Zinkgruvan has collaborated with Mobilaris to set up unique, full site coverage, communication and positioning infrastructure at the site, a project that led to the development of Mobilaris Virtual Tag™, which is running on LTE.

Mann said: “As we are the first to build something like this, we haven’t been able to ask anyone for help, we’ve had to solve all the problems ourselves along the way.”

According to Mann, the key to success lies in clear, short decision-making paths and a responsive way of working where everyone, including partners and suppliers, takes responsibility and is fully committed.

“This is exactly our approach to this project,” he said. “Everyone involved has had direct contact with each other. Even the operators have been able to talk directly to those building the network.”

The close cooperation with Epiroc has been crucial to the project, according to the OEM.

“Our development has gone hand-in-hand with that of Epiroc,” Mann said. “They’ve known that we were going to build an LTE network and then developed their teleremote system accordingly.”

Despite the fact Zinkgruvan is still a long way from bringing home the project, both Mann and Dömstedt are proud of what they have achieved. After completing 6,500 remotely drilled meters, they say the drilling is more efficient than ever, while the operators are satisfied and happy. The target is to reach 10,000 m, after which a thorough evaluation of the technology will be carried out.

Dömstedt said: “It’s been fantastic to work on this project. I’ve been working with automation in different ways for four years here in the mine and now have started drilling and see how it has developed – it’s been really fun! Of course, the fact that we’re getting such good feedback from the operators makes it even more exciting.”

*This story is an edited version of an Epiroc Customer Story here 

Nerospec SK digital mine survey highlights industry opportunities and skills gaps

The concept of ‘the digital mine’ has been around for several years, however a recent survey conducted by Nerospec SK indicates the underground mining sector is much closer to the beginning of its digitalisation journey than the end.

The ‘How Digital Is Your Mine?’ survey from Nerospec SK, a company focused on a suite of digital and automation solutions for the sector, focused on six key themes and messages in its report, which was based on replies from 43 participants from across the global mining sector.

The first theme indicated that digitalisation was continuing to grow, with more than 70% of participants expecting increased investments in projects going forward.

This expected growth was influenced by the second theme: ‘digitalisation pays off’. The survey highlighted three quarters of the projects pursued to digitalise operations had been deemed successful, and 70% of them had come with a return on investment of less than three years.

To this point, mine safety has been the biggest beneficiary, according to the survey, with some 64% of participants agreeing that digitalisation projects had positively impacted operational safety. This has been seen with the likes of proximity detection, collision avoidance and vehicle intervention systems underground, preventing collisions between people, machinery and mine infrastructure.

The added transparency that comes with these digitalisation endeavours was expected to translate into productivity gains down the line, according to survey participants.

“Knowing what the machines have been doing during their shifts and, with that, identifying systematic improvement opportunities is the real game changer, enabling the sector to unleash the next frontier of operations improvements,” Nerospec SK said.

One of the biggest hurdles to achieving these gains is the availability of data communication networks, more than half of survey participants pointed out. “As regular wireless communication equipment is not effective underground, this is still a hurdle that many mines have not tackled,” Nerospec SK said, explaining that new solutions such as LTE and the like were only just becoming available.

At the same time, survey participants (68%) highlighted that the “simplicity of digital solutions” as well as the “technology readiness” for underground mining applications were major challenges associated with leveraging more digitalisation projects. “This indicates that the industry is not yet convinced of the availability of robust underground mining proven solutions that can be installed and maintained with the available mining personnel,” Nerospec SK said.

Of the most promising digital technologies available to the underground mining sector, automation of machinery was highlighted, being named the biggest single game-changing technology innovation with the greatest business value contribution by 38% of participants. This surprised the survey analyst team given electrification, ventilation on demand and connectivity have been highlighted as transformative in other similar industry polls.

The last theme centred on digital training and the industry-wide need for obtaining local mine and service crews with updated knowledge on new digital technologies. Around 35% of survey participants highlighted the digital readiness of service and maintenance personnel when asked the question: ‘What skills developments are required to become ready for the digital mine?’

“Finally, in terms of people qualification the survey participants are not so worried about the underlying fundamental software development, data analytics, or automation capabilities of developers,” Nerospec SK said. “The greatest need is seen in getting the local mine and service crews ready to work with the new digital technologies.”

Aqura Technologies to expand Private 4G LTE network at Roy Hill

Veris Limited’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Aqura Technologies, has been selected to support Roy Hill in the design, install and commissioning of an expansion of its advanced Private 4G LTE network at its Pilbara iron ore mining operations in Western Australia.

The new project builds upon Aqura’s first phase delivery of Roy Hill’s new Private 4G LTE network in May 2021.

The new A$1.8 million ($1.31 million) project value leverages Aqura’s experience with Roy Hill in the first phase installation and commissioning, it said, building on Aqura’s track record in delivering “leading-edge, high performance Private LTE networks underpinning the digital transformation programs of large-scale operational activities in highly remote locations”.

Aqura Technologies CEO, Travis Young, said: “We are very pleased to have our performance, quality and value-driven approach recognised by Roy Hill through the form of this new contract following the highly successful outcomes delivered in our initial engagement earlier this year.

“The installation and successful commissioning of the first phase within such a short timeframe proved critical in the validation work of Roy Hill’s autonomous haulage and broader digitisation programs.

“Our in-house team is looking forward to continuing to extend the reach of the Roy Hill Private LTE network, which will accelerate the realisation of benefits from their Autonomous Haulage Systems and digital transformation initiatives.”

The project will commence with the design phase in November 2021 with scheduled completion to occur by June 2022.

Back in May, Roy Hill said of the AHS project: “Roy Hill’s autonomous haulage project has completed its initial start-up phase and has moved into production testing at the company’s Pilbara mine. A fleet of seven trucks have been converted using the Epiroc/ASI Mining autonomous haulage solution. This interoperable conversion kit has been fitted to both Hitachi EH5000 and CAT 793F trucks enabling load and haul circuits to commence in a segregated autonomous operating zone.

“Having established a stable haul circuit, work is progressing on optimisation and testing across additional mining scenarios. Another core feature of Roy Hill’s innovative AHS program is an open architecture approach, allowing existing and new systems to work together to deliver superior outcomes. We recently commenced testing the dispatching interface between Roy Hill’s existing fleet management system Wenco and ASI Mining’s Mobius traffic management software.”

Redline to supply CBRS spectrum and Private LTE solution to Salt Lake City mine

Redline Communications Group Inc is set to provide industrial-grade Citizens Broadband Radio Systems (CBRS) spectrum and Private LTE connectivity solutions for what it says is a leading salt and minerals mine in Salt Lake City, Utah. USA.

The provider of mission-critical data infrastructure for remote and harsh environments is supplying the company with its 150 MHz mid-band CBRS spectrum, enabling the mine to access its Private industrial LTE (iLTE) service and maximise spectral efficiency, it says. Leveraging Redline’s industrial-grade broadband wireless solution, using the CBRS spectrum, the mine can harness the power of superior broadband access, increased network stability and mobility, according to Redline.

“With Salt Lake City being an extremely harsh environment for equipment, the company chose Redline because of its consistent capability to deploy durable products and best-in-class wireless solutions in some of the most challenging working conditions,” Redline says.

Redline’s iLTE is currently deployed at the mine connecting a wide variety of Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) devices, pumps and laptops to support operations. The partnership will eventually expand connectivity services to mining trucks by early 2022.

Reno Moccia, Redline Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, says: “While Wi-Fi coverage is great for some businesses, it has some limitations and is not always the best choice for demanding business and mission-critical applications. The CBRS band combined with Redline’s private iLTE solution overcomes those limitations and provides the mines with two times the capacity and up to four times the range of Wi-Fi.

“With a more reliable, secure and efficient network capability, Redline ensures continuous connectivity for all of their real-time applications and PLC devices.”

MTS, Ericsson deploy Russia’s first commercial 5G-ready private network at Polymetal’s Nezhda

Mobile TeleSystems PJSC, a leading provider of media and digital services, has completed the construction and launch of operations of what it says is Russia’s first commercial 5G-ready Private network at Polymetal International plc’s Nezhdaninskoye gold deposit in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).

The planned installation of the network, built on the Ericsson Dedicated Networks solution, was announced last year.

Within the project, MTS deployed a wireless network for Yuzhno-Verkhoyansk Mining Company JSC, affiliated with Polymetal. The network supports integrated mining dispatching systems, positioning, remote and automated control of various equipment, including excavators, drilling rigs, measuring devices, monitoring systems for remote equipment and video monitoring.

Within the project a full range of turnkey works and services has been implemented, including site inspection, network architecture design, supply and installation of radio base stations, network core and auxiliary equipment, network testing and commercial launch, MTS says. At the first stage, the network built on Ericsson solutions will operate in the LTE standard with the possibility of smooth and fast upgrade to 5G, according to the company.

The network is built on Ericsson Dedicated Networks solution, which complies with the 3GPP standards and includes a full-fledged carrier-grade network core. It supports 4G and 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) simultaneously and allows dual-mode core capability to support 5G New Radio Standalone (5G NR SA). An enterprise can use all the carrier grade packet network functions for its own mission-critical applications, MTS says.

Georgy Dzhabiev, Director, Digital Solutions, MTS, says: “We are grateful to our partner Polymetal for cooperation that resulted in the creation of the first commercial Private LTE network in Russia for remote monitoring and managing critical processes in difficult geographic and weather conditions. I am sure that the competence and experience of MTS in the implementation of unique network and IT solutions, digitalisation and automation of production processes will help our customers to increase their business efficiency and improve the working conditions.”

Alexander Laguta, Head of Information Technology and Communications department, Yakutsk branch of Polymetal, says: “The system is already showing its effectiveness and is ready to move to next stage of introducing innovative technologies in production. The Private 5G-ready network will significantly increase the speed of transferring large amounts of data and reduce the cost of maintaining the technological network. One of the first projects on the basis of this network will be launch of dispatching systems, remote control of drilling rigs and video monitoring.”

Alexander Romanov, Head of Private Networks, Ericsson Russia, says: “The Private Network is the backbone of critical communications infrastructure and the Industrial Internet of Things, not only in mining, but also in other industries with a high demand for seamless coverage, performance, security and reliability while supporting mission-critical business processes in a new digital reality.”

At the next stages of the project, the implementation of a dispatch radio communication system based on MC-PTT (Mission Critical Push-to-Talk) over LTE network is planned, along with integration with the internal telephone network of the enterprise.

Rajant launches global LTE radio, personnel and asset tracking solution at MINExpo

Rajant Corporation, the provider of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks, has announced two new products on day one of MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The latest enhancements include the addition of a global LTE radtio to its fourth-generation BreadCrumb® Peregrine product line, and the launch of MeshTracer a software-based personnel and asset tracking solution that, Rajant says, can monitor Rajant BreadCrumbs, AeroScout tags and any Wi-Fi device that uses a static MAC address.

The addition of the global LTE radio means that with one 2.4 GHz radio, two 5 GHz radios and LTE, the enhanced Peregrine can provide up to 2.633 Gb/s of aggregated capacity, the company says.

Geoff Smith, EVP of Sales and Marketing for Rajant, says: “Improving the safety and productivity of mining operations is the by-product of Rajant Kinetic Mesh. It is the only industrial wireless network enabling machine-to-machine connectivity and mobility in markets like open-pit and underground mining”

“Adding an LTE client now allows all mining companies that have invested in LTE to leverage that infrastructure while benefiting from the mine-wide mission-critical coverage Kinetic Mesh provides.

He added: “Tracking personnel and assets is mandatory underground, making Rajant’s latest MeshTracer a logical addition to the BreadCrumb portfolio. Adding the ability to track BreadCrumbs both above and below ground allows a mine to observe areas for process improvements. Finally, supporting Wi-Fi devices allows for two-way communication in emergencies.”

Chris Acton, General Manager for Acubis Technologies, the largest Rajant Kinetic Mesh “Premier Partner” in Australasia, said: “We are ecstatic with the performance we have seen in the new Peregrines that we have deployed throughout Australia. Our customers see as much as four times the increase in capacity over the previous generation.

“Rajant provides unique value by maintaining backward compatibility with previous generation BreadCrumbs deployed in the field. This allows sites to upgrade between models knowing that there will be no loss to communications.”

He added: “We also have many customers in Australia who have invested in LTE solutions but are experiencing coverage and data upload issues. These customers are very anxious to deploy the latest LTE-equipped Peregrines. And being able to now track BreadCrumbs as well as personnel above and below ground provides critical new benefits for our customers.’’

Aqura to take on Australia’s 5G LTE underground mining challenge

Aqura Technologies has been awarded a grant from the Australian Government under the 5G Innovation Initiative to, it says, augment the organisation’s own development work to address the challenge of delivering underground 5G LTE.

The grant is an important step to overcome the technical and commercial barriers associated with operating next-generation broadband wireless networks in sub-surface environments, according to Aqura.

Aqura Chief Executive Officer, Travis Young, said the project was founded on extensive customer and industry feedback as critical to enable mining operators to unlock the benefits that surface operators had been enjoying for a number of years.

“With over 50% of mining in Australia being conducted underground and increasing, the industry is still playing catch-up with technology that is being widely utilised to great benefit in surface operations,” he said.

“Our track record and development work, coupled with the 5G Innovation Grant, will enable our team to work to deliver technical architectures and a validated commercial model which will enable and accelerate adoption.”

The 5G Innovation Initiative grant will complement investment already made by Aqura to deliver technical architectures, commercial model development and installation of a live Private 5G LTE network in an operating mine. The project leverages a lot of learnings from a 2017 project where Aqura successfully delivered Private 4G LTE in an underground mine in the Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia, Aqura said.

The focus of the program is to fast-track the enablement of applications and processes that are being adopted in surface operations so underground operators can realise the benefits of enhanced environmental, safety and productivity outcomes that advanced wireless communications can deliver, it added.

Aqura’s Chief Operations Officer, Alan Seery, said underground operators are wanting a kick-start to advance their technology capabilities.

“Many underground mines use processes and technologies that are decades old and operators want to leverage the latest technology, but the technical challenges and the commercial model to acquire can be prohibitive,” he said.

“We’ve learnt a lot through our previous work in underground, and we believe our new LTEaaS (LTE as a service) platform optimised to deliver next-generation private industrial operations networks will support a new commercial approach that will better suit the business models utilised by mining operators.

“And with new advances in radio access, we’re excited to have the opportunity to work with some very motivated partners to develop and make available new architectures which will bridge the underground connectivity gap.”

Many of Aqura’s core team were behind the first Private 4G LTE network in Australian resources, delivered Private 4G LTE underground and supported delivery of one of the first above-ground Private 5G LTE networks in north Queensland earlier this year, it said.

The project has kicked off with Aqura working with a large gold operator to commence scoping. Various partners have indicated support to validate applications, devices and processes around autonomy, condition monitoring, safety systems, data access, PTT communications and IoT sensors.

Gold Fields keeps modernising Granny Smith with Mobilaris solutions

Gold Fields has implemented both Mobilaris Onboard and Mobilaris Situational Awareness at its Granny Smith underground mine in Western Australia as part of an ongoing modernisation program.

In 2018, Gold Fields launched a five-year modernisation program for the site. The first phase’s ambition is to ensure cost efficiency, productivity and a safe work environment by integrating data-driven solutions into the mine.

Michael Place, Mine Manager at Granny Smith, said Gold Field has three dedicated full-time personnel to work on the modernisation program. It has also employed external consultants and contractors to assist with the integration.

“Together, we integrate an underground LTE system to have full connectivity in the mine,” he said.

Gold Fields’ investment will also have environmental effects over time as its digitalisation allows the company to work more sustainably.

“Moving into a more digital world is going to make sure that we are sustainable long-term,” Place said. “For instance, we can maintain our cost profile during expansion and follow up on our environmental footprint.”

Historically, underground blasting has been one of the biggest time thieves in the Granny Smith Mine, with the operation currently losing four hours of production in a 24-hour period due to the firing. With the ongoing modernisation program, Place looks for the mine to become more efficient than before.

“Integrating technology into the mine allows us to look at options to reduce the inactive time,” he said. “We can increase efficiency through autonomous equipment, remote operations, and digital solutions. The expected outcome is a 5-15% increase in productivity.”

The Granny Smith Mine has close to 4,000 different locations, with over 100 employees underground at the same time. It already runs 1.2 km deep and, like many mines, is under constant development.

Michael Place, Mine Manager at Granny Smith

In 2019, a group from Gold Fields Granny Smith, including General Manager, Andrew Bywater, visited Boliden in Sweden to study the use of the Mobilaris product suite, with focus on Mobilaris Onboard and Mobilaris Situational Awareness in the Kristineberg mine.

Mobilaris Onboard, working as a machine navigator underground, creates traffic awareness and a safe and effective traffic flow, according to the company. Based on real-time data, Mobilaris Situational Awareness enables transparency and awareness. The information makes it possible to control the operations and resources, and people can quickly act upon what is happening and make smart decisions faster, Mobilaris says.

Because Mobilaris data and positions were shared in real time, the operation had seen an increase in safety and efficiency, according to Mobilaris.

This visit has since led to Gold Fields implementing both Mobilaris Onboard and Mobilaris Situational Awareness at its underground operations at Granny Smith.

Place said: “Mobilaris Onboard allows us to navigate to all locations underground quickly and efficiently. It will improve our productivity and decrease inactive time by reducing traffic congestion and finding equipment and machines faster.

“We are a haulage-constrained mine and, by reducing the cycle time of our haulage fleet, we can raise our productivity. It is a significant benefit.”

Strong customer relations allows Mobilaris to develop and test all products in real environments, as well as the possibility to bring companies to customer’s sites to experience the products in use, Mobilaris said.

“Our close relationship with the customer is a crucial success factor for Mobilaris,” Pascal Hansson, Sales Director, Mobilaris Mining & Civil Engineering, said. “All our solutions are tested in Boliden’s and other companies’ underground mines. This gives us the confidence to deliver what we promise to our customers.”

Gold Fields has plans to use Mobilaris Situational Awareness as its number one source of information and integrate it with fleet management, inventory systems, and the daily shift scheduler, according to Mobilaris. The mine’s digital investment is expected to pay off within a year, it added.

Place explained: “The location data will synchronise with daily schedules to ensure real-time data is captured from the time jobs are planned and executed. We are looking at efficiency improvements, but we are currently introducing this technology to maintain our production profile with the increasing depth and costs.”

The Gold Fields modernisation program has full support from top to bottom and is expected to be finished over the next two years, Mobilaris said.

During the research process, Gold Fields discovered that Mobilaris Onboard addresses specific safety issues. By sharing positional data and navigation in 3D, drivers can avoid traffic congestion and find shelter during emergencies.

Place said: “We have installed tablets in all our heavy vehicles. With Onboard’s traffic awareness feature, we can minimise the vehicle-vehicle interaction and the vehicle-personnel interaction. The application also tells us where to find the three nearest refuge chambers to our location. So, if there is an emergency, we can get the quickest path to safety.”

3DP confronts mining-specific challenges with tailiored LTE solution

While LTE provides undeniable benefits to users of all kinds – including a high level of predictability, quality of service and connectivity at longer distances than Wi-Fi style networks – its application in mining creates some specific challenges regarding its use, 3DP reports.

First, LTE has been developed with a bias for consumers to download information from the network (using the downlink) while mining applications typically upload data to the network (using the uplink). So, there is an asymmetry aspect at play with LTE.

This is exacerbated as most industrial LTE User Equipment (UE) is not operating in a MIMO antenna configuration in both downlink and the uplink, 3DP says. As the technology is geared towards downloading from the network to the UE, the UE (alternatively called the LTE modem or CPE) will use both of its antennas to receive the signal, which aids in higher throughput transmission of data. When operating in the uplink mode only, one antenna will transmit to the LTE network. “Another way of explaining it is that with two antennas typically available, both are physically capable of receiving but only one is physically capable of transmitting,” the company says.

This can be problematic in mining as the size of the vehicles can effectively shadow the single transmit antenna on one side of the vehicle from the LTE base station it needs to connect to.

This issue is solved with the Osprey Intelligent Endpoint®, according to 3DP, as the company has designed an intelligent dynamic switch for the transmit function of the endpoint. This RF switch is implemented independently from the LTE modem, providing flexibility in the choice of modem integrated into the Osprey.

The RF switch implementation includes a hysteresis algorithm to prevent flapping between transmit antennas.

“This means that if the switch’s decision to change antenna was based on just connection quality every time the machine moved it would switch antennas, flap, and create a loss in performance,” 3DP says. “The hysteresis algorithm has a configurable threshold so that a switch will not happen unless the performance increase is significant. We’ve also implemented a configurable delay that can be set to match the dynamics of the movement of the environment. The result is an endpoint that is responsive to the mining environment but not at the cost of performance.”

As an example, miners that only have access to public LTE will typically be dealing with network coverage and capacity that was never intended for the purpose of mobile mining applications. In contrast, purpose designed and built private LTE networks should be more performant in relation to these applications, 3DP says.

“The ability to configure the Osprey to adapt to either scenario, or anything in between, means that our customers will get the most out of their network regardless,” the company says.

Challenging the L2/L3 VXLAN solution

The second challenge refers to the fact current mining applications are layer 2; that is, they operate at the MAC level of the network, according to the OSI 7-layer model.

LTE is a layer 3 technology, which uses segmented routing over IP.

To solve this issue a layer 2 fabric needs to be created on top of the layer 3 network. Traditionally there are multiple ways of doing this: GRE, L2TP and IPSEC are all examples of “old school” tunnels very much like a VPN.

“The problem with these options is that they aren’t ‘stateless’ and this creates more complication around how detection of broken tunnels is performed and connection re-establishment time,” 3DP says. “This incurs lost connection time and ultimately dropped packets – which equals poor performance.”

The mining industry looked to L2 technologies that came about from large-scale data server deployments. A tunneling protocol called VXLAN has become the prevalent solution in mining but the solution isn’t cut and dry, according to 3DP.

“VXLAN doesn’t support packet fragmentation and reassembly, and that creates problems for our miners using LTE as the network technology,” 3DP says. “Typical LTE deployments only support a maximum MTU packet size of 1,500 bytes so if a packet from an application operating over the network is larger than that, the packet will be dropped. One somewhat clunky workaround is to manually set applications to send smaller packets or to lower MTU size on a per device basis.”

Tunneling solutions require a back-office appliance that supports the tunnel creation and operates as a concentrator for all connections out in the field, according to 3DP. It needs to know what client devices are operating over the network and, again, this is not a seamless problem to solve with VXLAN. The appliance needs to be constantly updated with the list of operating devices.

“We’ve chosen a different approach, and importantly, one that solves both of these issues natively, without any additional manual effort or per-device configuration of the layer 2 fabric,” the company says.

Comilog enlists help of JRC, Geka Telecom for Moanda 4G/LTE infrastructure

Comilog, a leading manganese miner and part of Eramet Group, has decided to build a Private 4G/LTE network in Moanda, Gabon, as part of an effort to modernise the operation.

JRC (Japan Radio Co Ltd) and Geka Telecom were selected to provide a turnkey solution. JRC will provide the LTE infrastructure for hundreds of subscribers and 4 RF sites, while GEKA Telecom will provide the full services.

Comilog, as part of its modernisation efforts, is investing in a modern and secured LTE infrastructure. This will see field staff equipped with ruggedised tablets and smartphones, with a target to digitalise the various processes to increase efficiency and reduce its use of paper. This is part of an overall project called Comilog 2020 to increase the capacity of the mine and to enhance the operation’s local added value.

JRC LTE infrastructure was chosen for the quality of its offer, JRC said. The proposed LTE infrastructure is designed to meet mission critical environment and performance. GEKA Telecom will provide its expertise for the settings of the network and the installation.

“We are very proud to contribute to the Comilog 2020 project,” Sato Katsuhiko, General Manager of 5G Project at JRC, said. “We are a specialist of wireless communication for mission critical networks. Projects such as Comilog 2020 are crucial for us. We aim to grow our private LTE/5G business significantly in the EMEA region.”

The Moanda mine is currently undergoing an expansion that will see a new mine open up on the Okouma plateau, 13 km to the north of Moanda. This could lead to 7 Mt/y of products being available for sale in 2023, compared with just over 4 Mt/y currently.

JRC, or Japan Radio Co Ltd, is a specialist of wireless infrastructure founded in 1915. Based in Japan and with offices across the world, it has provided complete Private LTE/5G networks since 2015.

GEKA Telecom, founded in 1982, has specialised in telecommunication networks in Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, to facilitate access to communication for all.