A new solar-powered Cisco wireless mesh network is being used to run the mine fleet automation system at Barrick’s Cowal gold mine in NSW.
Barrick commissioned Brisbane-based CBO Telecommunications to design and implement the system, which comprises Cisco aironet 1524SB outdoor mesh access points managed by the Cisco prime network control system.
The network has self-healing capabilities to suit the harsh mine site environment, and can also be mounted on CBO solar mobility trailers, providing the capacity for consistent connectivity anywhere within the mine, regardless of pit depth or geographical distance.
The Cowal mine uses the Caterpillar MineStar software to manage its mining dispatch operations, with operators using screens in their vehicles to enter information into the system.
This and other data and updates are then transmitted in real-time to the centralised control room to help management make decisions about the mine’s productivity, asset maintenance and safety.
CBO Telecommunications managing director Mark McGregor said the rollout of Cisco mesh access points had been successful so far.
“With both fixed points and CBO Solar Mobility trailers, the solution delivers a robust and scalable platform for the mine to grow its connectivity assets,” he said. “Upgrading the Caterpillar MineStar dispatch system from a legacy 900 MHz to Cisco mesh technology lets companies like Barrick improve productivity through more efficient fleet management, loading, hauling, bulldozing and dispatch – all in real-time, without manual uploads or legacy two-way radios. “Our mobile wireless network can change from week to week as the topology and depth of the mine changes.
“For mobility, we simply move the CBO solar mobility trailer and point its solar panels north, supplying connectivity where it’s needed to help work at the mine progress safely and efficiently.”