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Telecoms solutions solve connectivity challenges

CONNECTED VEHICLES Connected vehicles many advantages to mining operations

DRILLING OPERATIONS Inmarsat solutions used at every mining lifecycle stage

13th August 2021

By: Nadine Ramdass

Creamer Media Writer


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Mobile satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat aims to solve some of the Australian mining industry’s biggest connectivity challenges.

Inmarsat products and services have been used across Australian mines for a long time, at every stage of the mining life cycle, explains Inmarsat global mining director Nicholas Prevost.

Mining companies rely on the IsatPhone 2 to keep in touch with workers in remote places, where exploration work is taking place with no available cellular coverage.

Another Inmarsat service offered in an exploration setting is the is the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN). It is a portable, vehicular or static dish which provides fast and reliable broadband connectivity in the outback. This can be used to facilitate real-time insights into aspects such as drilling analytics and telemetry, geological analysis at rig or general communications back to base.

BGAN can also facilitate connecting vehicles, including general voice and data communications, as well as GPS tracking information and telemetry data.

In the production phase, Inmarsat’s connectivity services allow miners to access Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to improve operational efficiency ranging from real-time vehicle telemetry data, which can be used to reduce unplanned maintenance, to a better understanding of the performance of excavators and haul trucks.

Meanwhile, in haulage and shipping of mined ores, access to reliable connectivity allows mining companies to use tools that accurately track shipments from pit to port, allowing for smarter decision-making and the development of more transparency and trust in the supply chain.

Inmarsat also provides a comprehensive, scalable tailings dam monitoring solution that helps Australian mining businesses to comply with regulations, and better protect workers and the environment.

The entirely off-grid solution is interoperable, easy to integrate and compatible with a range of sensors and IoT devices. It enables companies to monitor and manage tailings storage facilities in real time, particularly in areas with weak or nonexistent terrestrial connectivity.

“In Australia, there are about 700 exploration drills operating at up to 500 individual sites, with $1.7-billion being spent each year. With mining exploration, a lot of the sites are in the middle of nowhere,” explains Prevost.

Inmarsat’s BGAN and IsatData Pro (IDP) services enable mining companies to mitigate the challenge of little to no connectivity infrastructure.

IDP sends and receives small data packets which are ideal for IoT. It is suitable for tasks such as asset management, in terms of reporting the location of machinery, switching on/off, engine hours and basic telemetry data.

Inmarsat’s IDP service offers mining companies a simple, “easily integrated solution”. A satellite technician is not required to set up the equipment; instead, “it is plug-and-play, low-powered and not affected by environmental conditions or weather conditions”, he adds.

The BGAN can assist with the same tasks but has more bandwidth and can be used for high-throughput applications such as backhauling geological data from exploration sites in real time.

“Previously, mining companies would have to drill a core sample and transport it to a location where geologists could analyse it. Now, companies want to examine core samples on site and in real time to decide whether to cease drilling or add more holes.”

Connected Vehciles

Connected vehicles offer many advantages to mining operations, particularly in outlying regions, as they keep passengers, as well as the vehicle, in touch with the central office and the outside world.

Businesses can benefit from insights into vehicle failures, engine hours and other telemetry which allows companies to make better-informed decisions based on the use of Big Data applications.

All these services operate on Inmarsat’s L-band satellite network. Solid state BGAN terminals have no moving parts and are resistant to vibrations and dust, making them ideally suited to mining conditions.


Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor



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