The Letpadaung Copper Mine is located near Salingyi township in the Sagaing region in northwestern Myanmar. The large surface mine is operated by Wanbao Mining Copper Ltd, a subsidiary of China North Industries Group Corporation (part of Norinco) and Myanmar’s Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL).
The companies have invested $1.1 billion in the mine, which is believed to be the largest hydrometallurgical copper smelting project in Asia. In 2018, the mine’s output of cathode copper exceeded 100,000 tones for the first time, while in 2019 the cathode copper yield increased even further to 120,000 tones. The mine covers approximately 40,000 hectares.
The original communications network struggled to keep up with the mine’s operational requirements as it expanded in size and the copper yield increased. The network also needed to handle the much larger volumes of data generated by applications such as video monitoring, environmental monitoring (including rainwater), and truck scheduling.
The requirements for the upgraded communications network were that it had to provide wide area coverage across the whole mine footprint to ensure reliable voice communications between the operations center, vehicles and workers. It also had to be able to support the transmission of large data volumes, ensure remote data transfer from radio devices and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and meet high levels of system reliability and availability to enable 24/7 monitoring 365 days a year.
In 2019, Hytera provided two Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) base stations along with MD785 mobile radios, PD705 hand portable radio terminals and PD795EX ‘intrinsically safe’ terminals for use in areas of the mine with a potentially explosive environment.
This fulfilled the customer’s requirements for reliable wide area coverage and clear voice connectivity. Good voice communications are essential in the noisy working environment of a mine, where operational efficiency and safety of personnel are of paramount importance.
In 2020, the mine operator approached Hytera to see if it could find a way to meet its growing demand for transmitting large volumes of data. The company also wanted to implement reliable and robust outdoor coverage and a remote data transfer solution for IoT monitoring sensors and applications.
Hytera was able to fulfill this requirement by deploying its iBS 3800 integrated 4G LTE broadband base station, which is capable of transmitting all the mine’s video and data traffic. The iBS 3800 not only supports multi-site interconnections for wider network coverage and capacity, but it also enables interconnection between narrowband DMR systems and broadband LTE systems.
The iBS 3800 integrates the baseband unit (BBU), remote radio unit (RRU) and the 4G LTE evolved trunking core (eTC) into one compact unit. Its small size makes it highly flexible and easy to install on a wall, pole, or tower. It is IP65 certified, so it can cope with the harsh outdoor environment of a mine, where terminals must continue to operate despite dust, dirt, mud and heavy rain.
It is vitally important that operators of excavator machines and drivers of haulage vehicles can communicate at all times and can continue to send sensor data. To meet this demand, Hytera developed a new vehicle CPE (customer premise equipment) able to meet the requirements of IoT data transmission, remote data access and long-term monitoring in an outdoor environment. The vehicle CPE is light, safe and easy to install.
Hytera was able to combine different radio standards into one integrated network capable of fulfilling multiple purposes including: clear, robust and reliable voice communications; broadband data applications such as video; and IoT remote data transmissions and workflow management systems.
The professional outdoor deployment solution provided simple installation and flexible deployment, which can be altered to meet the changing topography of the open cast mine. The integrated voice and data communication system helped the customer increase efficiency, boost safety and save costs.