Nokia strikes gold in Lapland with 5G private wireless network

Comms tech provider implements private network at gold mine, reaching depths of up to 1km to connect people, equipment, sensors, devices and vehicles

Agnico Eagle Finland Oy’s Kittilä gold mine in northern Finland has engaged Nokia – working with mobile operator Telia and its partner Digita – to deliver a 5G SA private wireless network to support advanced Industry 4.0 use cases to accelerate digital transformation at the mine.

The Kittilä mine is the largest primary gold producer in Europe and is located 900km north of Helsinki and 150km north of the Arctic circle in the Lapland region. The mine achieved commercial production on 1 May 2009, becoming Agnico Eagle’s first mine to open outside of Canada.

Since open-pit mining was completed in 2012, Kittilä has been an underground-only operation. It has a projected end to operations of 2034, and in 2020 produced 208,125 ounces of gold.  It is on track to produce 250,000 ounces in 2021 and current gold reserves are calculated at 4,067,000 ounces.

The Nokia 5G SA network will support both above- and below-ground operations, reaching depths of up to 1km. It will cover a tunnel system to connect people, equipment, sensors, devices and vehicles, taking advantage of the low-latency capabilities of 5G. Nokia says the Kittilä mine will benefit from real-time data processing at the network edge, supporting important Industry 4.0 use cases, such as autonomous vehicles, high-precision positioning and group communications, to further enhance operational reliability, safety and quality.

The Nokia 5G SA private wireless network, based on the Nokia Modular Private Wireless (MPW) system, will incorporate Nokia 5G RAN AirScale base station technology and critical edge computing capabilities, together with the Nokia Compact Mobility Unit-based 5G core. The network will be deployed in phases and is expected to be completed in October 2022.

Nokia currently has more than 380 enterprise customers of industrial-grade wireless private networks globally, including over 35 mining customers. The company says its industrial-grade private wireless technology is ideal for the digital transformation of mining facilities. In particular, it says, mine owners can take advantage of Industry 4.0 applications that enable new levels of automation to better manage fluctuations in demand, while enhancing productivity, operational efficiency and workforce safety.

Tommi Kankkunen, general manager of the Kittilä mine, said: “Having already piloted autonomous and remotely controlled machinery in recent years, we chose to work with Nokia, Telia and Digita to deliver capabilities for the next phase of our digital transformation journey. We want to innovate by using the latest technologies and will leverage the Nokia 5G SA private network to enhance operational efficiency and support the highest level of safety for teams working at the mine.”

Jari Collin, chief technology officer at Telia Finland, added: “We are excited to be a part of this project for Agnico Eagle, providing high-performance 5G to transform operations at the Kittilä mine. This deployment continues our work with Nokia and Digita to deliver 5G SA private wireless networks in Finland to support the growing digital economy in the country.”

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