Botswana’s Debswana Diamond Company and information and communication technology (ICT) giant Huawei have unveiled the miner’s fifth-generation- (5G-) orientated smart diamond mine project.
Debswana’s Jwaneng openpit diamond mine has been equipped with Huawei’s fourth-generation (4G) enterprise Long Term Evolution (eLTE) private network solution, which, through the connection of more than 260 pieces of equipment, including drilling rigs, excavators, heavy trucks and pickup trucks, provides stable connectivity for the mine.
“This enables interconnection between the mine’s production, safety and security systems,” says Debswana information management head Molemisi Nelson Sechaba.
The hardware equipment, such as base stations used in the mine’s digital transformation solution, support network upgrades to 5G, which, with high bandwidth and low latency, can support the application of technologies like autonomous driving, enabling more intelligent digital transformation of the mining industry in the future.
Following on the success of the Jwaneng mine project, Debswana plans to also deploy the smart mining solution in its Orapa, Damtshaa, and Letlhakane mines in 2023.
Prior to the adoption of the technology, the mine had limited coverage and used public wireless frequencies, with less robust anti-interference capabilities.
This meant that the mine’s different types of data could not be transferred stably in real time, he says, explaining that it is important to deploy the eLTE solution to connect mining equipment in a more stable manner as this supports efficiency and helps improve safety.
The ability to transfer data in real time makes equipment like mining vehicles more efficient, increasing yield and reducing long-term operating expenditure, while real-time data collection, backhaul and interaction make the system more sensitive and accurate, ensuring that it provides more reliable protection for staff and vehicles.
“Debswana is a leading mining company in Africa that, by working with Huawei, can take the efficiency, productivity and safety of mining to the next level,” continues Botswana Communications, Knowledge and Technology Minister Thulagano Segokgo.
“The government of Botswana will continue to put in place facilitation measures to further support the digital transformation agenda across all sectors, including the mining industry, and welcomes international companies, such as Huawei, to participate in this agenda.”
Measures already under way include a formulated digitalisation agenda, a 5G roadmap and other supporting policies.
“Huawei is committed to using its strengths in ICT technologies such as 5G, cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things to develop smart mine solutions that are based on an industrial Internet architecture for customers in the mining industry worldwide,” says Huawei Mine CTO Xu Jun, noting that these solutions make mine production safer, more efficient and more intelligent.
In China, Huawei has jointly developed numerous intelligent applications with leading mining enterprises, including the commercial deployment of the AI mining model in projects with Jinneng Holding Group and Shandong Energy Group.
It has also delivered mining digital transformation projects in regions like Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Africa.
Over the past five years, Huawei has provided services to mining enterprises in a number of countries in the region, including South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Ghana, says Huawei sub-Saharan Africa region VP Liao Yong, highlighting the importance of mining as an economic backbone for many sub-Saharan African countries.
Looking to the future, Huawei will work with more local partners to accelerate mining digital transformation and create more value in Africa.