Autonomous mining has been enabled by Private 5G Networks.

Autonomous mine clearing technology in Colombia is enabled by Nokia’s private 5G solution while hybrid 5G-satellite services are to be provided by Inmarsat.

FREMONT, CA: Autonomous mining, which makes use of 5G cellular technology and satellite Internet of Things (IoT) services, is gaining traction in markets all over the world. Colombia is hosting one of Latin America's first autonomous mining pilots, which is made possible by Nokia's industrial-grade private 5G network. This lets machines blow dynamite in the mine hole without direct human supervision using cameras and sensors.

A strategic challenge exists in the mines surrounding Colombia's part of the Andes mountains. On the one hand, with 27 percent of Colombians living in poverty, there is lots of untapped economic potential and a pressing need, according to DANE, the national statistical information provider. Colombia is a significant coal and gold producer, and it is apparently planning to increase copper production to satisfy expected demand for rechargeable batteries. Moreover severe tragedies occur in Colombia, as they do in most deep mining epicentres. According to national safety, rescue, and public health experts, more than 1,200 incidents in Colombian mines occurred between 2005 and 2018, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths. Illicit diggers in unlicensed mines accounted for six out of ten deaths in the first eight months in 2021, stated the national mining agency.

A potential solution is offered by Connected technology. According to Alejandro Cortes, the firm's head of enterprise for northern Latin America, the spectrum's numerous frequency bands are a crucial draw in these early days for private 5G-enabled mines. The pilot has demonstrated to the community how the use of modern technologies can help with the mine's day-to-day operations, increasing productivity and efficiency, Cortes added. According to Dan Bieler, principal analyst at Forrester, operating autonomy underground necessitates high-definition imagery so that computer vision algorithms can accurately determine different elements in the rock, while the controller above ground requires ultra-low latency to adjust the machine's trajectory.

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