Sweden-based Ericsson and Canadian engineering services systems integrator Ambra Solutions have entered into a global cooperation deal to bring automation to the mining industry. Ambra chose Ericsson as its partner to provide 5G-ready network products to automate ventilation systems, real-time personnel and vehicle tracking and remote controlling of machinery such as scoop diggers, hauler trucks, drillers, and other mining equipment. The 5G-ready Ericsson Radio System portfolio enables Ambra to simplify network deployments and replace up to 60 Wi-Fi access points with a single Ericsson platform.
In 2018 Ericsson and Ambra partnered to deliver what they termed the world’s deepest underground 4G/LTE network for the Agnico Eagle mining complex, LaRonde, located in Abitibi, Quebec, Canada.
The growth of the Internet of Things and the imminent growth of 5G technology together open many revenue opportunities for companies that provide automation services for industrial enterprises. Mining is a gigantic worldwide industry that benefits from mobile network services under very challenging conditions, notably the need to maintain signals deep underground. Creating an underground 4G/LTE network for a Canadian mining company was evidently a successful venture for Ericsson and Ambra, so much so that the companies are partnering again with a much broader mandate, to engage in mining connectivity projects all over the world, and this time with 5G.
As the demands placed upon IoT networks get greater, particularly in sophisticated heavy-industry environments such as mining, the bandwidth requirements become much greater. Therefore there is much to be gained by deploying the next-generation type of network, which will allow the transmission of much more information within the same or shorter times as previously. So 5G, when it comes to fruition, will have a key application here.
Our reflection on this matter is that there is a lot of potential here for mobile operators to capitalize on the mining industry’s special connectivity needs. Ericsson’s contribution to the partnership involves creating internal solutions, but it appears that the 5G connectivity would come from local mobile operators. However, even as far as the internal infrastructure within a mine is concerned, MNOs should be playing a role. A mobile operator that is developing 5G could credibly enter into a partnership with a specialized technology company such as Ambra and do deals with mining companies to provide end-to-end solutions for service underground and elsewhere. This is a market sector that by no means should be left to technology developers only.