5G and Artificial Intelligence to Augment Smart Mining Operations

Subscribe To Download This Insight

By Matthias Foo | 4Q 2022 | IN-6755

Huawei has launched its smart mining solution for wide-spread commercial adoption. Leveraging on 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the solution aims to enable remote operations in mines that will bring about increases in productivity and safety, while also reducing manpower costs. This insight takes a look at some of the 5G smart mine solutions and how these solutions can address issues that have been plaguing the mining industry.

Registered users can unlock up to five pieces of premium content each month.

Log in or register to unlock this Insight.


Huawei's Launches Commercial 5G+AI Smart Mining Solution


In November 2022, Huawei announced the commercial launch of its smart mining solution which leverages on 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to support remote operations in mines.

  • Remote Operations: Leveraging on 5G’s capabilities to provide higher data throughput speeds, high reliability, and low latencies, hundreds of High-Definition (HD) videos of mining conditions can be captured and streamed in real-time to workers operating offsite over the 5G network, thereby enabling remote control of mining machines.
  • Safety Monitoring: The integration of AI-enabled videos also leads to safer work environments where any safety or quality issues can be detected in real-time.
  • Automated Inspections: The 5G+AI solution enables more efficient work environments, as AI-based analysis of HD videos streamed over the 5G network allows for around-the-clock monitoring of work operations and reduces the quantity of inspection staff required by up to 20%.

To support remote operations, Huawei introduced the MineHarmony platform which facilitates the sharing of data across all mining equipment—regardless of manufacturer or device type—to enable miners to have a comprehensive overview of all devices deployed in the mine. As of April 2022, Huawei reported that the company had already deployed more than 3,000 5G devices in over 200 coal mines.

5G Smart Mines to Address Long Standing Issues


The ABI Research report Digital Transformation and the Mining Industry (AN-5424) outlines the key drivers of digital transformation in the mining industry, which addresses (1) the health and safety of miners; (2) the need to improve yield; (3) reduction of equipment downtime; (4) the enabling of remote operations; and (5) operational transparency, in terms of environmental impact and safety.

Workplace safety is one of the largest issues plaguing the mining industry. According to the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), there were 43 deaths and 7,355 injuries recorded across ICMM company members in 2021. In China, the National Mine Safety Administration reported more than 120 coal miner deaths within the first seven months of 2022. The deployment of 5G-enabled video streaming in smart mines could potentially alleviate workplace safety issues by enabling remote operations, thereby reducing the number of staff required to work on the ground. Additionally, AI-enabled videos enable remote monitoring of equipment and real-time detection of safety violations.

Another key challenge facing the mining industry is the increased importance placed on environmental sustainability and meeting the Paris Agreement targets of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. According to the World Economic Forum, the mining industry is a considerable consumer of energy, representing up to 10% of the world’s energy. Leveraging 5G’s high bandwidth and low latencies, the deployment of 5G networks in mines could result in energy savings by enabling automated and autonomous operations. A report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicates that the use of autonomous vehicles in mines can reduce fuel consumption by 10%, while real-time monitoring of mining site conditions can lead to environmental benefits by detecting any potential issues early.  

Are 5G Smart Mines a Game Changer for the Industry?


Huawei’s recent announcement is not the only interesting development in the Asia-Pacific region regarding the use of 5G for smart mining applications. In September 2022, PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) partnered with Telkomsel to launch a 5G smart mining technology, the first of its kind in the Southeast Asian region. Leveraging 5G and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) technologies, the solution enables a variety of machinery and vehicles within underground mines to be controlled remotely, while also improving workplace safety via the use of AI-based analysis of video streams captured by cameras in the mine in real-time. This 5G-enabled solution is expected to bring about increases in productivity, while reducing cost and energy consumption.

The necessary transformation of traditional business models is based on global trends, such as the emphasis on Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards, the emergence and continued effects of the COVID pandemic, etc. ABI Research believes that digital transformation efforts in the mining industry will pick up in the upcoming years, with global mining digitalization revenues increasing from US$5.89 billion in 2021 to US$9.29 billion in 2030 (at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.2%). 5G is expected to be a key transformational technology in the mining sector due to its ability to enable a variety of use cases that can bring about increases in productivity and safety, while also reducing energy consumption and manpower costs.

Despite all the positives mentioned above, strong global headwinds continue to pose a challenge to companies aiming to deploy 5G solutions in their operations. As such, mining companies looking to deploy 5G solutions should carefully evaluate the value that 5G can bring to their businesses against the costs needed for implementation.



Companies Mentioned