If the wheels come off the supercycle

To fully exploit the investment that a mining company makes in communications, it should consider how to get the most from its network infrastructure.

Often, a site will require little more than Internet access and SCADA-style data applications. However, larger sites – especially in the more remote locations on earth – have much more sophisticated demands.

While mine engineers and geophysicists need to share huge files and video with headquarters, there is a need for access to high-performance business applications and miner welfare facilities.

There can be many different organisations – the mine owner, prime contractors and sub-contractors – on the site. This often leads to the establishment of a number of different networks on the same site.

Today, it is possible to create a single network infrastructure that allows a number of sub-networks to operate securely and independently that reduces the cost of equipment and management required to provide the range of network services the site requires.

Think innovatively

Mining image AfricaAn effective remote communications infrastructure can give mine operators the opportunity to think innovatively. While many different potential risks moved up and down Ernst & Young’s list, one remains very near the top.

Operators know that they have to maintain a social licence to operate in the areas where they are active. In addition to safety and environmental issues, this means working closely with the local communities.

For very little expense, mine operators can look to extend their existing communication infrastructure to deliver educational and entertainment-style content to communities that surround their sites.

Today, mining companies have access to a greater range of network technologies to create high performance, high availability communications infrastructures anywhere in the world.

Developments in satellite mean that high-data rates can be achieved securely and affordably for inter-site and inter-country communications. Advances in wireless and mobile makes a wide range of applications available for intra-site and site-to-site communications.

Whether ending or changing shape, the current focus on the mining supercycle is giving us a chance to look at ways to make mine operations more efficient.

Remote communications can help to reduce costs and introduce more remote operations on sites. In addition, it can help drive longer term value by allowing operators to do more with their infrastructures.

A mining company should select a network service provider that they can work closely with to scope out its specific requirements and create a communications infrastructure that will exactly meet its needs and budgets.

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
T: +44 20 7834 7676, F: +44 20 7973 0076, W: www.alaincharles.com

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