Reliable connectivity, low latency and the ability to handle large amounts of data are among the key network requirements for a successful move to a more autonomous, digitalised mine of the future.
Technology and telecoms companies - including Ericsson, Telia and Nokia - are currently preparing for the industrial rollout of 5G - the fifth generation of wireless technology, which promises to meet the above requirements.
Nonetheless, private consumers are still waiting for the big carriers to introduce 5G for mass use, with earliest large-scale commercial deployment predicted for next year.
A recent survey by network performance solutions provider Infovista also revealed that only 25% of mobile network operators say they are "extremely prepared for 5G". Progress might also be slowed down by issues such as the controversy surrounding Chinese telecoms company Huawei and its involvement in the UK's 5G network.
Accordingly, miners might still have to wait some time before 5G is offered to industry. Although, Volvo CE, together with Telia and Ericsson, has already launched Sweden's first 5G network for industrial use at its R&D facility.
At the moment, engineering firm Ambra is able to deploy mission-critical, private LTE networks to its mining customers; and by choosing Ericsson as a radio partner, the company is getting ready for industry/mining 4.0.
Ambra CEO Eric L'Heureux said: "The Ericsson products are optimal to deliver the most demanding applications used by the mining 4.0 industry. The reliability of Ericsson products enables more predictable, secure and lower-cost connectivity, and mining companies want to use a reliable product that is available worldwide."
The Ericsson Radio System, the company's technology ready for 5G radio access, will allow Ambra to replace up to 60 Wi-Fi access points with a single solution, thus simplifying network infrastructure.
Shannon Lucas, head of customer unit emerging business for Ericsson North America, described its system as an "easy-to-use cellular connectivity solution" able to "deliver efficiency through digital transformation, while creating a path to 5G".
"Ambra will sell this solution as part of its portfolio and will partner with Ericsson customers (global service providers) to deliver it, which opens up exciting new opportunities and revenue streams for the service provider," she added.
The companies said that the solution is "upgradable to provide massive IoT capabilities for sensor-based applications" and "supports 5G-ready radio capability".
Ambra and Ericsson partnered up last year to deliver what they claimed to be the "deepest underground LTE network" for the Agnico Eagle's LaRonde complex in Quebec, Canada.
So far, altogether, they've completed eight underground and open-pit mining deployments in Canada, providing over 90km of network coverage