Canadian Mine Deploys Ericsson LTE Network 3 Kilometers Below Surface
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 | Comments

Ericsson and Ambra Solutions delivered Canada's deepest underground Long Term Evolution (LTE) network for the Agnico Eagle’s LaRonde mining site in Abitibi, Quebec, Canada. Located 3 kilometers below the surface, the LTE network will provide data and voice mobility services across the site and enable several internet of things (IoT) use cases to improve safety and mining operations.

LTE cellular networks can provide data and voice mobility services over low frequency bands that allow a better propagation than any other technology, delivering faster, more advanced wireless technology. The network in LaRonde is using band 5 at 850 MHz. Ambra is the only Canadian operator deploying private LTE networks in underground mines, a statement said.

The solution is based on Ericson’s portfolio of basebands and radio units, software upgradable to provide massive IoT capabilities for sensor-based applications and support 5G new radio (NR) capability.

"The LTE technology is the most cost effective and reliable solution to provide real-time coverage to several kilometers of underground tunnels,” said Eric L'Heureux, CEO, Ambra Solutions. “A single LTE radio can cover up to 6 kilometers of tunnel, whereas it would take more than 60 active Wi-Fi access points to cover the same area."

LTE networks open a new suite of capabilities and possibilities to cost effectively enable smart mining-related tasks for open pits or underground mines. Unlike other options, LTE networks allow the use of IoT sensors and devices to monitor, operate and collect data throughout the mining site, for example, related to air quality monitoring. This includes remote control operation of mining machinery, dispatch systems, emergency notification systems, access control systems, automated collection of data, ventilation fan monitoring and gas detection systems, a statement said.

"Our work with Ambra brings Ericsson technology to a specialized environment in a unique application,” said Graham Osborne, head of Ericsson Canada. “Deploying this underground LTE network will provide us with new learning opportunities in a novel application and how they can lead to future technologies and ideas."

Agnico Eagle mining company also uses TETRA networks at some sites, including the Meadowbank gold mine and the Meliadine gold mine for voice and some data applications.

Ericsson said the LTE mine network is similar to the mining site of Boliden in Skellefteå municipality, Västerbotten County, Sweden, which was also built using Ericsson equipment.

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