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Finland’s VTT to define next generation of underground mining

Harsh environments present a number of challenges for deploying modern-day connectivity solutions to improve the productivity, safety and sustainability of underground mining.

Julia Volk / Pexels

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has taken charge of a project to unlock productivity, safety and sustainability improvements in underground mining.

The project aims to deliver the improvements through the introduction of connected machinery, digital automation and advanced analytics for real-time situational awareness and control. A secondary project goal is to drive the digitalisation of mining in co-operation with key industry players by integrating solutions based on artificial intelligence, edge computing and industrial 5G networks into a mine-compliant connectivity infrastructure.

Underground environments, however, pose numerous challenges for connectivity, from signal behaviour and hardware durability to network design requirements pertaining to bandwidth, frequency rate, reliability and scalability.

Sauli Eloranta, head of the safe and connected society research area at VTT, specified that the research centre will not only coordinate the project, but also contribute to project competences in artificial intelligence, edge computing, sensor technologies, situational awareness and telecommunication.

The main industrial experts of the project are Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Sandvik.

“Collaboration across the ecosystem is essential for developing winning technology solutions that will meet productivity and sustainability targets and capture global market share in the growing mining business”, underscoredJarkko Pellikka, who is in charge of an industrial 5G programme at Nokia.

Given the potential of the solutions also outside mining, the project consortium is collaborating with Sustainable Industry X, a national initiative to supercharge industry performance and sustainable growth through innovation and knowledge.

By: Aleksi Teivainen