The project aims to enable digital transformation in mining, with industrial 5G private networks, edge computing and AI technologies

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The project aims to develop a mine compliant connectivity infrastructure. (Credit: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland)

Finland’s VTT has partnered with telecom company Nokia and Swedish mining equipment firm Sandvik for an industrial 5G underground mining project.

The research project, dubbed Next Generation Mining (NGMining), is funded by Business Finland.

It is expected to enable digital transformation in the mining sector, by bringing together industrial 5G private networks, edge computing and AI technologies based solutions.

The main objective of the research project is to facilitate safe and sustainable underground mining, by making 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 competencies related to telecommunication technology, situation-awareness, sensor technologies, edge computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) on new application areas in mining context.”

Commenced in May this year, the two-year NGMining 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.

The NGMining project will involve building Proof of Concept (PoC) experimental systems to assess integrated connectivity solutions that are tested in harsh underground mining environments.

As part of the project, the 5G network infrastructure’s objectives will include spectrum usage in the underground mining environment, 5G modems integrated in machinery and equipment, and edge computing.

To ensure underground connectivity, the research project will focus on understanding signal behaviour in underground environments, harsh environments for HW, and network design requirements.

The project partners aim to develop a mine compliant connectivity infrastructure for the safe and efficient operation of autonomous connected working machines (AGVs) in underground mines.

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.”