South32 digitises Cannington through Telstra partnership

Cannington. Image: South32.

Telstra has formed a partnership with South32 for a private 4G long term evolution (LTE) network at the company’s Cannington silver-lead underground mine in North West Queensland.

The network is set to drive improved safety, automation and mechanisation at the site and will connect staff to vehicles and sensors around the mine at all times.

Importantly, the high throughput and low latency offered by the system means that staff will be able to control critical equipment without interruption.

Telstra revealed it would initially build an underground network 6.5 kilometres in length using a private, virtualised core and LTE radio technologies distributed over leaky feeder cable using LTE-capable amplifiers.

Analysis by Telstra indicated this to be the most effective solution for underground miners and is capable of adapting to the unique geology and composition of the Cannington mine.

It enables access to the latest advances in 4G LTE and narrowband Internet of Thing (NB-IoT) and is also upgradeable to 5G in the future.

Additionally, the network being private means it will be a completely standalone mobile network, independent from others, similar to Telstra’s own public network.

South32 will have its own equipment, SIM cards and unique network codes at Cannington for full autonomy and complete control as part of the agreement.

At its full deployment, it will become one of the largest underground mining LTE networks in the world using leaky feeder.

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