Communications, Digitalisation and smart mines, Features, Innovation, Underground operations, Work health and safety

MST: Forging deep connections


MST Global is an expert in underground mining technology.

When MST Global’s founder first realised the potential of low-frequency transmission technology to send a radio signal through the strata of an underground mine, he knew he was onto something big. 

That technology, which allowed one-way communication with miners underground and was commercialised by MST in 1989, is called the personal emergency device (PED). It’s still available today, with all the bells and whistles of 21st century technology. 

PED has become a well known, cost-effective safety system in underground mining and put the MST name on the map. Since the technology’s inception, MST has developed an extensive range of hardware and software solutions to revolutionise safety and operational success in underground mining. 

Recognition of the company’s expertise came in July 2022 when MST was acquired by Komatsu as its underground mining technology specialist. MST became the second arm of Komatsu’s mining technology business, sitting alongside Modular Mining, which is well known for surface mining productivity solutions. 


The AXON suite of products provides underground mines with infrastructure to enable instant and reliable communication. Image: MST

The ability to effectively communicate in an underground mine is as critical to safety as it is challenging to implement. MST’s AXON suite of products provides underground mines with the necessary infrastructure to enable instant and reliable communication among people, assets and control rooms. 

MST offers a range of specific voice and data communication systems and devices depending on a site’s requirements. These include Wi-Fi-based communications, radio, and leaky feeder systems. 

This high bandwidth connectivity is provided through MST’s fibreoptic cables and Ethernet copper cables, and wirelessly through Wi-Fi APs and mesh.

Much more than a communications hardware provider, MST has also leaned heavily into the software space. 

“Our enterprise software platform for underground mining is called HELIX,” MST product manager for HELIX Ramodh Rangasamy said. 

“The foundation of HELIX shows real-time personnel and asset-tracking using Wi-Fi tags. HELIX collects and visualises live data from MST’s voice, tracking and networking systems, helping personnel on the ground and in command centres keep track of everything in the mine as it happens.

“Tracking is done using our wireless network infrastructure, eliminating the need for any additional dedicated tracking infrastructure.”

HELIX helps to create a much safer mining environment, affording vehicle operators awareness of potentially dangerous situations when working in proximity to workers and other assets. 

In its base form, HELIX also provides network monitoring and the ability to send messages to mine phone users on the network, and can run reports on the movement of people and assets. 

“HELIX comes with other modular software features such as equipment condition-monitoring, sensor-monitoring for strata, environment and vehicles [Internet of Things], automation for things such as traffic management, water pumps, ventilation fans, and more,” Rangasamy said.

“HELIX offers our customers a flexible solution portfolio. We’re proud to be able to offer our mining industry customers everything to operate their site safely and optimise their production.”

More efficient

As Modular Mining’s underground counterpart, the two companies are able to share technologies, which has resulted in some impressive developments. 

First developed by Modular Mining and now perfected for underground mining by MST, HELIX Dispatch is the latest module to be released to the market. 

“HELIX Dispatch is a fleet-management solution that fundamentally helps underground mines maximise their material extraction,” MST product manager for HELIX Dispatch Nick Rebeiro said. 

“We accomplish this by automating production tracking, which eliminates the need for operators to manually write down their load data, which saves a lot of time. 

“One of the other foundational pieces of Dispatch is equipment- and status-tracking, which allows command centres to monitor the status of vehicles in real-time.”

A mine operator’s view when looking at their site through the HELIX platform. Image: MST

The data provided by HELIX Dispatch allows a mine to see any inefficiencies occurring during operation, which the site can then take steps to address. 

“No matter how good our networks are, you can’t create a system that relies on perfect coverage,” Rebeiro said.

“HELIX Dispatch was designed to work offline, meaning it can run all of the logistics on-board and then re-synchronise once the network connection is re-established.”

On the safety side of things, HELIX Dispatch has digitised and enhanced existing processes such as pre-start checks. 

“Traditionally, an operator fills out a physical form checking the state of a machine’s core components. With Dispatch, that process now takes place digitally through the machine’s dashboard,” Rebeiro said.

“An operator is required to fill it out when they log in. That form is then sent to the dispatcher, who can check the state of the components and make a decision on whether that machine is safe to operate.

“An operator may not always know which components are critical, so by digitising the checklist we hope to prevent equipment operation in unsafe condition.”

HELIX Dispatch is the latest in MST’s long line of solutions to underground mining operations. And now as a part of Komatsu, MST’s story is starting an exciting new chapter. 

This feature also appears in the March-April issue of Safe to Work.

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