NGMining brings together industrial 5G private networks, edge computing and AI-based solutions to enable digital transformation in mining

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NGMining is a mining technology research project. (Credit: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.)

Finland-based VTT has teamed up with Nokia and Sandvik to conduct a 5G-powered research project on advanced mining technology, dubbed Next Generation Mining (NGMining).

Advanced mining technology includes autonomous connected machinery, digital automation and advanced analytics for real-time situational awareness and control.

NGMining is funded by Business Finland, and brings together industrial 5G private networks, edge computing and AI-based solutions to enable digital transformation in mining.

The project will assess the potential of 5G network coverage on improving productivity, safety, environmental sustainability and global competitiveness in mining.

It aims to facilitate safe, and sustainable underground mining through productive use of autonomous and connected machinery.

VTT safe and connected society vice president Sauli Eloranta said: “VTT supports all project partners by coordinating the project.

“In addition, in the research VTT applies and further strengthens the competences related to telecommunication technology, situation-awareness, sensor technologies, edge computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) on new application areas in mining context.”

NGMining will collaborate with the Sustainable Industries X initiative (SIX), as the results on autonomous connected working machines will also be useful for other industries.

Started in May 2021, the two-year project also includes University of Oulu as a research partner, along with Epec, SATEL, Huld, Terrasolid, Outsight, Etteplan, Noptel, Unikie, Iiwari, Millisecond, Wizense ja Indagon as company partners.

Representatives from Outokumpu and Agnico Eagle Finland, Telia 5G Business, Kalmar and Ponsse are appointed as members of the project advisory board.

NGMining aims to build a Proof of Concept (PoC) experimental systems to evaluate integrated connectivity solutions, tested in harsh underground mining environments.

The objectives relating to the 5G network include spectrum usage in the underground mining environment, 5G modems integrated in machinery and equipment, and edge computing.

Also, it will understand signal behaviour in harsh environments to ensure underground connectivity with respect to bandwidth, frequency range, latency, reliability, and scalability.

Nokia Unlocking Industrial 5G programme director Jarkko Pellikka said: “Collaboration across the ecosystem is essential for developing winning technology solutions that will meet productivity and sustainability targets and capture global market share in the growing mining business.”

Sandvik commercialisation and networks lead Miika Kaski said: “Sandvik is conducting research on 5G connectivity use cases in the mining environment and this NG Mining consortium helps facilitate this with our network partners.”