Chilean mines launch 5G, remote monitoring trials

Copper and gold mines in Chile held remote monitoring, 5G and virtual reality trials this week, with ministers hailing the technology demonstrations as evidence of the country’s progress in mining’s digitalisation.
Chilean mines launch 5G, remote monitoring trials Chilean mines launch 5G, remote monitoring trials Chilean mines launch 5G, remote monitoring trials Chilean mines launch 5G, remote monitoring trials Chilean mines launch 5G, remote monitoring trials

Images from the RadomiroTomic Division are transmitted in real time to Codelco's new CIO-E in Santiago

Swiss-Swedish technology firm ABB trialled remote control and monitoring of intelligent electric motors with a smart sensor linking a gold mining project located near Copiapo with a university in the capital, Santiago.

ABB used its 800xA Control System to create a visual rendering of industrial equipment at Gold Fields' Salares Norte gold mine, with operators in Santiago able to view the data and control the machinery.

"This technology will allow Gold Fields to be more agile, efficient and is another step towards our digital transformation", said Max Combes, Gold Fields Chile country manager.

A second trial was also held using the control solution to perform a telemedicine consultation, with augmented reality glasses used by a doctor to perform a check-up on a volunteer.

"This is an example of how technology can help improve processes in mining and make them safer", said the Minister of Mining, Baldo Prokurica."We are able to connect via satellite to carry out tasks and procedures remotely, which includes medical assistance for workers. We are modernising Chilean mining."

ABB with regional telco Claro and Finnish telecommunications firm Nokia on the project.

"Nokia's private wireless networks enable the digital transformation process in the mining industry and more broadly in Industry 4.0 projects, providing mission-critical communications for data collection and processing. This is a key step since we know that in Industry 4.0 the value of digitisation lies in the possibility of controlling assets remotely," commented Marcelo Entreconti, director of Nokia Enterprise for Latin America.

5G in focus

Copper miner Codelco also held a successful trial of a 5G network linking a high-definition camera at the primary crusher of its Radomiro Tomic copper mine in Antofagasta.

Developed in partnership with Nokia and local technology company, PSINet, the network feeds data from the camera to the company's Integrated Strategic Operations Center (CIO-E) for analysis and process optimisation.

"5G will allow faster data transferal and analysis to improve processes, and therefore increase productivity," Prokurica said of the Codelco trial.

The company's CIO-E, which went live in a first phase in December, is linked to three Integrated Operations-Tactical Centers (CIO-Ts) operating in Calama, Los Andes and Rancagua.

The central office performs all support and optimisation services for the company's CIO-Ts, including slope monitoring, condition monitoring, as well as advanced control and control system support for the company's plants.

"The new CIO-E is a kind of ‘central brain' where a team specialised in systems analysis will be permanently monitoring the indicators thrown by the intelligent systems of Codelco's three CIOs-T," said the company. 

"The ultimate goal is operational excellence. What we seek is to standardise, scale or transfer practices from one CIO-T to another to continually optimise the integral operation of the system," explains Codelco's vice president of Technology and Business Process Automation, Álvaro García.