Newcrest boosts safety with PNG’s first 4G network

The Lihir operation. Image: Newcrest Mining

Newcrest Mining, in collaboration with Telstra Mining Services, has delivered Papua New Guinea’s first private 4G long-term evolution (LTE) mobile network to the Lihir gold mine.

This wireless communications platform will allow for greater levels of safety, remote operation and automation, where mineworkers are often exposed to hot temperatures at Lihir.

The Lihir mine extends 300 metres into a volcanic crater, and the use of teleremote and autonomous mining technologies will become fundamental and more dominant features to working the hot work areas in the future.

Every kind of production vehicle asset at Lihir, including trucks, drills, excavators, dozers, shovels and barges have been connected over LTE.

This implementation has significantly improved the fleet’s reliability, speed and latency, with efficiency and real-time visibility experiencing an 80 per cent improvement in communications reliability on LTE-enabled assets.

“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,” Newcrest chief information and digital officer Gavin Wood said.

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.

Telstra Mining Services has provided Newcrest with a platform that is completely independent from public mobile networks.

Newcrest has been supplied with 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.

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.

Newcrest complemented the LTE technology solution by implementing new towers, data centres and redundant power systems across the site.