Advantages of smart satellite connectivity in the mining sector

2022-01-20T13:56:35+00:00 January 24th, 2022|Bulletin|
Twoobii's Smart Satellite Services offers mines 99.95% uptime in an automatic failover configuration. Credit by : Q-KON

Twoobii’s Smart Satellite Services offers mines 99.95% uptime in an automatic failover configuration. Credit by : Q-KON

Mining is one the most critical pillars of the South African economy, and while it continues to contribute very significantly to GDP and job creation, it is an industry that faces unique challenges. One of these challenges is communications functionality in remote areas.

Mining operations often take place in remote locations – far beyond the reach of conventional communications technologies such as fibre, LTE or 4G/5G. There is a clear requirement for an available anywhere, always-on and highly reliable connectivity solution with zero or near-zero downtime.

The challenge

Alongside continuous rotating shifts, being in constant contact with suppliers, service providers and senior management is an essential aspect of modern mining due to the

operational demands of mining and the pressure on profit margins.

This is particularly true with bulk ore mining, where vast quantities of material are moved according to a strict timetable. Without communications functionality, this scheduling could break down, leading to confusion and costly delays. Further to this, the remoteness of mining operations means that repairs to mission-critical equipment cannot easily be carried out. This places an onus on the reliability of the technology used, including of course, their links to the outside world.

The solution

Dawie de Wet, Group CEO of Q-KON, a satellite engineering enterprise behind Twoobii, the Smart Satellite Services, shared a case study that played out on an open-cast iron ore mine in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, “The client was looking for an effective alternative to their existing, very limited telecoms infrastructure.” He emphasised that reliability was a core requirement.

De Wet explains the company’s solution, “A custom-designed 1+1 high-availability solution that consisted of dual satellite terminals (primary and secondary circuits), each offering 99.95% uptime in an automatic failover configuration,” was the answer. “In the absence of mains power, a hybrid solar and generator solution was engineered to provide a cost-effective way to ensure near 100% uptime. In order to service all the operational locations within the mine complex, additional wireless links were included in the installation.”

Twoobii, established in 2018, is a high-throughput satellite connectivity service, powered by Intelsat platforms and managed by Q-KON. Through satellite business broadband technology, Twoobii functions either as a standalone service, or as a component of integrated network architecture solutions.

André Slabbert, General Manager of the open cast iron ore mine commented on the impact the solution had had on the business: “Our business suffered not having communications at the mine, but since we have had the high availability Twoobii satellite solution installed, we are now in constant contact with our employees, and our business processes are running semi-automated.”