As the global mining industry continues to evolve, technological innovations play a pivotal role in reshaping its landscape.
“In 2023, MTN Business made significant strides by spearheading the implementation of 5G, IoT, and digital transformation in African mines,” says Tumi Sekhukhune-Chamayou, Chief Enterprise Business Officer at MTN.
Now, in 2024, it’s time to revisit the progress made and explore the advancements in 5G private networks that have further revolutionised the mining sector.
Expanding the reach of 5G in mining
Since the 2023 Mining Indaba in Cape Town, the adoption of 5G private networks within the mining industry has experienced remarkable growth.
The promise of vastly superior speed, reduced latency, and higher reliability due to decreased network congestion has proven to be a game-changer for mining companies.
These companies turn to MTN Business, as it pioneered 5G implementation in a South African mine and has set the stage for widespread adoption.
“The success of MTN Business’s private 5G offering has encouraged other mines to explore similar solutions as they realise the transformative potential that 5G brings to the mining environment,” says Sekhukhune-Chamayou
Real-time insights and remote monitoring
One of the key advantages of 5G private networks in mining is the ability to gather real-time insights and enable remote monitoring.
This has significantly improved operational efficiency and decision-making processes.
Control centres equipped with end-to-end visibility across mining operations can now manage and monitor activities in real time, contributing to a more agile and responsive mining ecosystem.
IoT devices, now empowered by 5G, allow for seamless communication between various components of the mining infrastructure.
From equipment health monitoring to predictive maintenance, these advancements have streamlined processes and minimised downtime.
Automation and enhanced safety
“The transformative impact of private 5G networks extends to automation within mining operations, too. Mines are now deploying autonomous vehicles, drones, and robotic systems that leverage the high speed and low latency of 5G.This not only increases operational efficiency but also enhances safety by reducing the need for human intervention in hazardous environments,” says Sekhukhune-Chamayou
5G also provides full operational visibility through real-time analysis and monitoring, which contributes to improved health and safety protocols, enables quick responses to potential risks, and ensures a safer working environment for mining personnel overall.
Scaling implementation and industry collaboration
Building on the success of Memorandums of Understandings (MoUs) and Proof of Concepts (POCs) initiated in 2023, mining companies are now actively scaling the implementation of 5G private networks.
Collaborations between telecom providers like MTN Business and mining enterprises have become more prevalent, fostering a shared commitment to driving innovation in the industry.
These partnerships not only accelerate the deployment of 5G solutions but also facilitate knowledge exchange and the customisation of technologies based on the requirements of specific mines.
As a result, the mining sector is witnessing a collaborative ecosystem where industry players work together to unlock the full potential of 5G and ensure sustainable growth.
As we move further into the era of Industry 4.0, the role of 5G in mining is set to expand even more.
The ongoing integration of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced analytics will leverage the capabilities of 5G to usher in a new era of intelligent mining operations.
The journey that began with MTN Business’s pioneering efforts in 2023 has paved the way for a transformative wave in the mining industry.
“With 5G private networks at the forefront, mines are now better equipped to navigate the complexities of their operations, fostering innovation, efficiency, and safety on a scale previously unimaginable” concludes Sekhukhune-Chamayou.