Nokia and Telefônica Brazil build private LTE for world’s biggest iron ore mine
Nokia and Telefônica Brazil have struck a deal with Brazilian mining firm Vale to provide a private LTE network to the open-pit Carajás Mine, the world’s largest iron ore mine, in the state of Para in northern Brazil. Vale wants its own cellular network to support autonomous drilling platforms and autonomous trucks, as part of wider Industry 4.0 capabilities.
The new private cellular network, upgradeable to 5G in the future, will increase productivity at the mine, improve worker safety, and also support communications between workers across the site. Vale plans to expand the technology to other mines currently using older WiMax solutions, said Nokia. The deployment is with Telefônica Brazil’s Vivo business unit.
Vale is currently operating 13 autonomous trucks on a WiMax network at its Brucutu mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil, with the intention to also replace it with a private LTE network for improved performance and reliability. Nokia said autonomous trucks will increase productivity by 15 percent and reduce fuel and maintenance costs by 10 percent.
The Carajás Mine, which also produces gold, manganese, bauxite, copper, and nickel, is largely powered by hydroelectric power from the Tucuruí Dam. Nokia listed certain other applications, including environmental monitoring, video-assisted remote operations, and improved worker monitoring. There is also talk of using IoT sensors to connect dam monitoring instruments using LTE.
Nokia has separate deals around private cellular for the mining industry with mining specialists Komatsu and Sandvik. Driverless trucks by Komatsu are the first in the mining industry to be passed to run on a private LTE network in commercial operations.
The Finnish vendor has just signed a contract with the mining division of Sandvik for deployment of a 5G SA network at its test mine in Tampere, in Finland. Nokia already has a deal with Sandvik in Finland for LTE-based private networking and digital cloud services, via Finnish private networking provider Edzcom.
Nokia has also been working in the space with Telefónica in Peru, to provide private LTE to the Minera Las Bambas mine, the ninth largest copper mine in the world. It has also installed a private LTE network in an underground mine belonging to NORCAT in Ontario, in Canada. The work has been carried out with Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN).
Gustavo Vieira, chief information officer at Vale, said: “This new generation of wireless technology – LTE and, eventually, 5G – is enabling us to explore many new applications and use cases for remote and autonomous operations. This will help to make our mining operations more efficient, sustainable and safe for our workers.”
Alex Salgado, vice president of Vivo’s enterprise business, said: “The private wireless service we are implementing at Vale’s Carajás mine is one of many deployments that we expect to see in the next few years. Forward-thinking customers such as Vale are embracing Industry 4.0 technologies, fostering digital solutions at the heart of their businesses, whether in agriculture, transportation or mining. We are excited to be leading this transformation.”
Luiz Tonisi, head of Nokia’s Brazilian market unit, said: “Nokia is making a lot of impact in the mining sector right now, and this project with Vale is a very important beginning here in Brazil. Our industrial-grade private LTE wireless solution is ideal for supporting the industry’s embrace of autonomous technologies. It solves a lot of issues that past wireless technologies have struggled with and opens the way for many new and exciting use cases for mines of the future.”