Ericsson and HERE Partner to Map Mining Sites

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By Michael Larner | 1Q 2022 | IN-6431

Mining safety and efficiency can be increased with digital maps that reflect real-time site changes and evolutions.

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Helping Open Cast Miners Get an Accurate Picture of Operations


Ericsson announced in January 2022 that it will add HERE Technologies to its partner ecosystem so that mining firms can utilize the companies’ respective expertise to create an accurate picture of mining operations and the local environment.

Gone are the days when mining firms could move to another site when yield started to dip, and digital technologies are becoming critical to supporting miners’ efforts to prolong the productive life of their pits – having accurate maps that are updated in real-time is an important tool for achieving this.

ABI Research’s 2021 report into digitalization in the mining industry (AN-5424) outlined how the vastness and dangers of working at open cast mine sites will drive investments in connectivity, analytics, and software applications. In this sector many software applications benefit from mapping capabilities to for example keep track of machinery or the workforce.

Mapping Mines Throughout Their Lifecycle


Mining firms need accurate maps throughout the lifecycle of the mine. From the initial geological surveys of the potential site, providing details of the conditions as production commences, to the final reclamation stage as the mining facility is closed down. Conditions above and below ground level at open cast mines are in a state of flux. In the planning stage mapping helps with yield calculations and when operations commence contribute to ensuring health and safety of staff. Mining operators need to have sight of these changing conditions continuously with images collected from the field and transmitted via private networks. Ericsson has already installed private LTE/5G networks on behalf of Russian steel giant Severstal, Russian gold producer Polymetal, and Australian mining and metals company South32. The alignment of Ericsson and HERE enables miners to track their assets with data collected from HERE’s sensors, LIDAR sensor data, and probes. Ericsson’s 5G private network connectivity and HERE’s location services can pinpoint assets in real-time with results displayed via HERE’s map making solution.

The partnership provides Ericsson with the opportunity to add map making to its engagement with mining firms and an additional sales channel for HERE. Ericsson already partners with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and system integrators, including Capgemini, Telia, and Ramjack, and also Independent Software vendors (ISVs) such as PTC, SAP, Hexagon, Ubisense, equipment providers such as Seequans, Telit, and Sierra Wireless, and device partners inseego, Zebra, Cisco, Moxa, ADLINK, HPE, and DELL EMC.

Understanding Local Conditions Regardless of Users' Location


Mining firms are investing heavily in wireless connectivity to ensure safety and help to optimize their processes with spending forecasted to grow by CAGR 5.7% and reach US$960 million in 2030. Providing mines with location services (mapping, routing, positioning, and asset tracking) over a private LTE/5G network means they have an accurate picture of their operations.

Open cast miners are also looking to reduce the number of workers on site both for safety reasons and to reduce costs. These objectives have fueled investments in self-driving trucks, which requires and having real-time images relayed via private LTE/5G networks i. In addition, miners need the autonomous trucks to remove the materials from the blast zones and their operations centers need the local environment mapped as conditions change on-site.

Mining operators have been investing in operations centers to keep track of all facets of their operations but are not necessarily located at the mining site. COVID-19 has accelerated investments in networking technologies, cloud applications, and cyber security so that staff can work from a city center location as if they are at a mining site. Many of the use cases for digital transformation need to be underpinned by investments in sensors, edge devices, network equipment, and connectivity. Furthermore, miners now can incorporate images and maps into their workflows, for example, in the planning stages prior to blasts and creating applications such as digital twins to further their efforts to optimize their operations.