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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Empowering digital transformation of South Africa’s coal mines with 5G

Huawei, MTN, Minetec Smart Mining and opencast Phalanndwa Colliery have launched a 5G connected coal mine operation, which the partners have described as a major step toward digital transformation of the coal industry.

This collaboration, at Canyon Coal’s Phalanndwa Colliery sees Huawei and MTN provide an advanced 5G solution to ensure guaranteed connectivity within the mine and plant area, in the initial stage. The mine is taking the lead in combining digital applications with 5G, achieving the first trial use of 5G applications of mining solutions in South Africa, leading the digital transformation of South Africa’s mining industry.

Fortune Wang, CEO of Huawei SA Carrier Business

“Phalanndwa Colliery offers the perfect combination of the right technology with the right scenario, where ultra-high bandwidth and ultra-low latency of 5G allows real-time communication among the mine workers,” says Fortune Wang, CEO of Huawei’s SA Carrier Business. “The deployment of more application scenarios, promises incredible changes will be happening in the Phalanndwa Colliery. These include PDS (proximity detection system), vehicle detection, tracking system and wireless video surveillance,” he added.

The systems will reduce the occurrence of accidents and protect workers from being harmed by trucks. Furthermore, they will be able to monitor the movement trajectory and status of trucks in real time to shorten downtime.

This kind of advancement will become increasingly important as South Africa looks to remain competitive in the global mineral and resources space. The country is the world’s top platinum producer and the mining industry accounts for eight percent of South African GDP.

Wanda Matandela, CCO of MTN

In his presentation, Wanda Matandela, CCO of MTN commended the mine for taking the lead in digital transformation within the sector, and congratulated Canyon Coal on their foresight. He said “As MTN moves from being a tel-co to a tech-co, we have a significant role to play in the roll out of groundbreaking technology. We are an ecosystem partner and infrastructure provider.  The mining company and MTN have established an in-depth strategic partnership and will cooperate closely to build a solid foundation for digital transformation to take the mining industry forward.”

Kgotso Mongalo, GM of Phalanndwa Colliery

Kgotso Mongalo, GM of Phalanndwa said, “Practising responsible mining and looking after the safety of the mine and our miners are our primary goals at all times, and this switch to 5G and real time monitoring of both staff and equipment will allow for greater levels of both efficiency and safety.”

Davut Isik, COO of Minetec

Minetec, which provides proactive, dynamic, new generation solutions within the mining sector is making the 5G technology capacity a reality on the Phalanndwa Mine. Where connectivity was previously a problem, the 5G technology allows for real time notifications of any technical problems within the operation, monitoring vehicle movements, engine health and fuel levels, for example. Said Minetec’s COO, Davut Isik, “It is not only operators who need to be able to see what is happening. Management needs to track activity and respond accordingly. With the introduction of 5G connectivity to the mine, business disruption can be avoided and can become more sustainable and profitable.”

“Huawei is honored to work with MTN SA, Minar Mining Company and Minetec Smart Mining to initiate this 5G smart coal in South Africa, which will definitely be a milestone in accelerating the local coal mining industry’s digital transformation,” said Wang.

He concluded, “With the further introduction of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and Internet of Things (IoT), these cutting-edge technologies are key enablers for different vertical industries, including mining. We have seen successes in China, where these technology ecosystems are already maturing.”

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