Canada-based gold producer Agnico Eagle plans to implement a new private 5G network at its Kittilä gold mine in Finland in collaboration with Swedish telecommunications company Telia and its partners Digita and Nokia.
Agnico Eagle believes it will be the first 5G network built in an underground mine, and will become one of the first examples of the novel 5G technology implemented in production use.
The 5G network is designed to work both above-ground and underground at Kittilä, which is the largest gold mine in Europe.
Tommi Kankkunen, general manager of the Kittilä mine, said: "This is a significant investment in our future. At the Kittilä mine, we want to be leaders in adopting new technologies. This development step will bring tremendous possibilities for many years to come."
Autonomous and remotely controlled machinery have been piloted at the Kittilä mine over several years. Building a private 5G network is part of the plan to take new development steps into the future at Kittilä.
Kankkunen added: "An independently operating 5G network enables utilising new types of mining technologies. Providing us with a private, internal network at the mine, it simultaneously improves occupational safety and operational reliability."
The 5G network will be deployed in phases beginning early next year, and it is scheduled to be completed by the end of October 2022. Telia and its partners Digita and Nokia will implement the 5G network in collaboration with Agnico Eagle Finland, and the local cooperation partner for the project is Finnish earthworks company Veljekset Toivanen.
The network will need to operate in the mine's extensive tunnel system at depths of up to 1km. Agnico Eagle said that it expects the technology to deliver a long service life and optimal performance for the network.
Kaisa Pajari, head of networking and communications services at Telia, said: "This significant project makes us proud and excited. The mine project has high demands, and the network will bear a considerable responsibility of enabling mine operations and safe conditions.
"Pioneers change the world. Led by Agnico Eagle Finland, and along with our partners Digita and Nokia, we will have the chance to deliver on our promises regarding the possibilities offered by 5G."
Markus Ala-Hautala, COO of Digita, said: "We are very pleased to be able to participate in implementing this unique and extensive project. We are in charge of building the private network and ensure that the 5G network will enable the customer to digitise its mining operations in the future."
In November 2020, Telia installed a 5G-ready mobile network at Boliden's Aitik open-pit copper mine in Sweden.