MTN Business makes 5G inroads in Africa’s mining sector

Johannesburg, 20 Feb 2024
Redefining mining in Africa.
Redefining mining in Africa.

5G technologies have the potential to redefine mining in Africa, reports MTN Business, which is making inroads in the sector with a dedicated team and solution set for mines.

David Behr, Chief Executive Officer at the MTN Business ICT Centre of Excellence, says MTN Business aims to harness the power of 5G to help redefine mining in Africa, enhancing safety, boosting productivity and optimising costs, and ultimately propelling the industry towards a brighter, more sustainable future.

“5G private networks represent a paradigm shift in connectivity, offering a unique blend of speed, reliability and security that traditional public networks simply cannot match. These dedicated networks, which can be tailor-made for mining operations, provide mining companies with unparalleled control over their network resources, ensuring seamless data transmission and uninterrupted operations,” says Behr.

MTN Business is focusing on mining, with a comprehensive suite of services encompassing network design, deployment and management, ensuring seamless integration into existing operations. MTN Business also has a team of experts dedicated to guiding mining companies through the digital transformation process, helping them identify and implement the right 5G solutions to unlock their full potential.

Behr says Canyon Coal's Phalanndwa Colliery in South Africa serves as a prime example of MTN Business's transformative impact. The mine has established a 5G-connected cool mine operation, pioneering the use of 5G applications in mining solutions. Similarly, Zijin Garatau Platinum Mine in South Africa has partnered with MTN to become the region's first 5G-enabled smart metal mine, showcasing the potential of 5G to revolutionise mining practices.

5G private networks to address key challenges

Behr notes that while Africa’s mining industry stands as a cornerstone of the continent's economic landscape and could drive growth and provide employment opportunities for millions, the sector faces a multitude of challenges.

“Mining is confronted with volatile market conditions, ageing infrastructure and a scarcity of skilled labour. 5G private networks offer solutions to these challenges,” he says.

Behr believes 5G private networks usher in a new era of mining, characterised by enhanced safety, increased productivity and reduced costs. Real-time video surveillance, enabled by 5G's ultra-low latency, equips mining companies with unparalleled visibility into their operations, enabling them to detect and address potential hazards before they escalate. Remote control of equipment, another transformative application of 5G, minimises the need for personnel to operate machinery in hazardous environments and could significantly reduce the risk of accidents.

Behr says the transformative power of 5G extends beyond safety to the realm of productivity. Real-time data collection and analytics, facilitated by 5G's high bandwidth, provide mining companies with actionable insights into their operations, enabling them to optimise production processes, identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions in near real-time. This data-driven approach streamlines operations, leading to increased output and reduced downtime.

“5G's impact on cost reduction is equally profound,” continues Behr. “Predictive maintenance, empowered by the technology's ability to collect and analyse vast amounts of sensor data, allows for proactive maintenance of equipment, preventing costly breakdowns and extending asset lifespans. Remote monitoring of equipment further enhances cost savings by minimising the need for on-site maintenance visits.”

MTN Business has emerged as a trusted digital transformation partner, committed to empowering mining companies with the cutting-edge technology of 5G private networks, Behr says.

“MTN Business stands at the forefront of 5G innovation in Africa, possessing a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities faced by the mining industry. Our expertise in 5G technology, coupled with our extensive experience in the mining sector, enables us to deliver tailored solutions that address the specific needs of each mining operation. Our commitment to excellence is evident in our successful partnerships with industry leaders,” Behr says.