Newcrest installs Papua New Guinea’s first private 4G network

Newcrest Mining has implemented Papua New Guinea’s first private 4G long-term evolution (LTE) mobile network at the Lihir gold mine with the support of Telstra Mining Services.

The private LTE technology has facilitated Lihir’s digital transformation, establishing greater levels of safety, teleremote operation and automation across the whole mining lease.

Every kind of Lihir’s production asset, including trucks, drills, excavators, dozers, shovels and barges, have all been connected to LTE.

Newcrest also implemented new towers, data centres and redundant power systems across the site to complement the LTE technology solution.

“The Lihir mine extends 300 metres into a volcanic crater, and workers can often be exposed to elevated temperatures,” Newcrest Lihir general manager Chris Jordaan said.

“Teleremote and autonomous mining technologies are fundamental to working the hot work areas that will become more dominant features of Lihir’s operation in the future.”

Telstra Mining Services has delivered a platform 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, along with coverage designed and implemented to meet the Lihir safety strategy and long-term mine plan.

Future phases of the tech project will further enhance coverage in-line with Lihir’s 20-year mine plan, providing for expansion of coverage and capacity across the mine, processing plant, port and camp.

The 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.

“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,” Telstra Mining Services head Jeannette McGill said.

“They’ll be using it to further modernise the mine site to enable the use of current and future mining applications, including teleremote and autonomous systems, more extensively.”

Fleet efficiency and real-time visibility have been reported to benefit from an 80 per cent improvement in communications reliability on LTE-enabled assets.

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