5G-oriented smart diamond mine unveiled in Botswana


Tuesday, 11 April, 2023

5G-oriented smart diamond mine unveiled in Botswana

Botswana-based mining company Debswana and Huawei have jointly announced their 5G-oriented smart diamond mine project, believed to be a world first. The Huawei-enabled smart mine solution has been deployed at Debswana’s Jwaneng open-pit diamond mine, with the project commencing operation in December 2021.

Mining is the economic backbone for many Sub-Saharan African countries and plays an important role in the economy of Africa as a whole. Huawei’s 4G eLTE private network solution provides stable connectivity for the Jwaneng mine, connecting more than 260 pieces of equipment including drilling rigs, excavators, heavy trucks and pickup trucks. This enables interconnection between the mine’s production, safety and security systems.

Debswana’s Head of Information Management, Molemisi Nelson Sechaba, noted that the mine’s previous solution had two limitations. First, it had limited coverage. Second, it used public wireless frequencies and had less robust anti-interference capabilities. As a result, the mine’s different types of data could not be transferred stably in real time.

The ability to transfer data in real time makes equipment like mining vehicles more efficient, increasing yield and reducing long-term OPEX. The new solution also helps to improve safety, as real-time data collection, backhaul and interaction make the system more sensitive and accurate to provide more reliable protection for staff and vehicles, Sechaba said.

Being a 5G-oriented smart diamond mine, this means the hardware equipment such as base stations used in the mine’s digital transformation solution support network upgrades to 5G. 5G features like high bandwidth and low latency can support the application of cutting-edge technologies like autonomous driving, enabling more intelligent digital transformation of the mining industry in the future.

Botswana’s Minister of Communications, Knowledge and Technology, Thulagano M Segokgo, said the federal government is pleased to see Debswana and Huawei’s joint efforts to drive digital transformation in the mining industry, thus taking the efficiency, productivity and safety of mining to the next level. The government will continue to put in place facilitation measures to further support the digital transformation agenda across all sectors including the mining industry and welcomes international companies, such as Huawei, to participate in this agenda.

Building on the success of the Jwaneng mine project, deployed together with Huawei and local Botswana companies, Debswana plans to also deploy the smart mining solution in its Orapa, Damtshaa and Letlhakane mines in 2023. Huawei also plans to work with more local partners to accelerate mining digital transformation in Africa, using its strengths in ICT technologies like 5G, cloud, AI and IoT to make mine production safer, more efficient and more intelligent.

Image caption: The Jwaneng diamond mine. Image courtesy Debswana.

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