First private LTE network in Papua New Guinea establishes greater levels of mining safety, tele-remote operation and automation
Telstra Mining Services, and Newcrest today announced the successful implementation of Papua New Guinea’s first private 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) mobile network at Newcrest’s Lihir gold mine. This next generation wireless communications platform will allow for greater levels of safety, remote operation and automation. Telstra worked with Newcrest to provide design, staging, site deployment and testing of the network.
Dr Jeannette McGill, Head of Telstra Mining Services, said Newcrest’s decision to invest in Private LTE technology further validates it as a dependable and scalable networking platform for the mining industry and one that enables mining houses to digitally transform.
“We’ve provided Newcrest with a tailored platform that will underpin its safety and digital mining ambitions and will help improve productivity and deliver new value and efficiencies to the business. They’ll be using it to further modernise the mine site to enable the use of current and future mining applications, including tele-remote and autonomous systems, more extensively.”
Telstra Mining Services has delivered a platform in partnership with Newcrest that is completely independent from public mobile networks. Newcrest has been provided its own dual-frequency base stations, LTE core and SIM cards, with the network’s configuration and coverage designed and implemented to meet the Lihir’s safety strategy and long-term mine plan.
Telstra Mining Services’ solution also includes ‘HetNet’ functionality that allows the Newcrest vehicle fleet to seamlessly switch between LTE and existing Wi-Fi networks without impacting critical mining applications. Newcrest complemented the LTE technology solution by implementing new towers, data centres and redundant power systems across the site.
Every kind of production vehicle asset, including trucks, drills, excavators, dozers, shovels and barges have now been connected and operationally proven over LTE. This has revealed significant performance improvements in terms of reliability, speed and latency. The network has been able to resolve challenges with existing Wi-Fi connectivity and is making Newcrest’s safety and productivity systems more effective. Fleet efficiency and real-time visibility have benefited from an 80% improvement in communications reliability on LTE-enabled assets.
“Newcrest and Telstra Mining Services took what has become a best-in-class preliminary deployment approach with the network. Designing it for full production but initially deploying at two sites allowed Newcrest to validate the design principles, implementation techniques and practical capabilities of LTE before scaling their investment,” added McGill.
Newcrest’s pragmatic approach, combined with flexibilities in the solution from Telstra Mining Services, enabled the desired outcomes and learning to be achieved within a relatively short timeframe, despite the remoteness of the Lihir operation. Future phases of the project will further enhance coverage in-line with Lihir’s 20 year mine plan, and provide for expansion of coverage and capacity across the mine, processing plant, port and camp.
Chris Jordaan, General Manager, Newcrest Lihir said, “The Lihir mine extends 300m into a volcanic crater and our workers can often be exposed to elevated temperatures. Tele-remote and autonomous mining technologies are fundamental to working the hot work areas that will become more dominant features of our operation in the future.”
“The Private LTE network will be a great enabler for these technologies and coupled with the existing in-pit Wi-Fi network, we have been able to create a heterogeneous network that covers the whole mining lease.” he added.
“Safety is Newcrest’s number-one priority and the network Telstra Mining Services has built with us at Lihir will enable safer and more efficient mining using new technologies. The success of this project was 100% driven by leadership and personal commitment of the Lihir’s OT / IT team working together with Telstra Mining Services,” said Gavin Wood, Chief Information & Digital Officer at Newcrest.
LTE is a future-ready platform for wireless communications in mining, providing dependable and scalable communications that the next generation of machines, systems and workforce applications will require. Having been proven in carrier networks, it’s now seen as the mining industry’s next step for connectivity.