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Cutting-edge technology rocks into mining industry

By MA SI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-03-07 07:20
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Leading telecom, AI, automation help improve efficiency, safety, overall security

On the golden coastline of eastern China's Shandong province lies the country's "Golden City" — Laizhou. Boasting rich gold reserves, the city's economy is underpinned by the gold mining industry, but like many other mines worldwide, it used to be plagued by workplace safety risks.

Now, thanks to advanced telecommunications and artificial intelligence technologies, local mines are undergoing a digital and smart makeover by embracing cutting-edge automation and unmanned solutions, which could offer lessons for mines around the world.

In the Jiaojia Gold Mine, a forklift is busy transporting gold, as a driver on the surface, about 77 meters above the vehicle, remotely controls the forklift from an office.

Meanwhile, in the nearby Sanshandao Gold Mine, many young miners are remotely crushing ore. They only need to operate buttons and handles to remotely command the mechanical arms hundreds of meters underground to perform the tasks.

Such operations free workers from dangerous environments and offer a glimpse into the evolution of China's sprawling mining sector. For companies such as Shandong Gold Group Co Ltd, which owns the two mines, embracing digital intelligence not only fulfills its own needs, but is also representing the general trend in industry development. At the same time, a series of policies on mine safety and the digital economy have greatly promoted the transformation process of the mining industry.

Huawei has offered cutting-edge technologies such as a WiFi-6 network to enable remote controls in the above-mentioned two gold mines in Laizhou. WiFi-6 can support a range of innovative solutions, such as automated guided vehicles, industrial robots and many other compelling use cases.

Chen Wenfeng, vice-president of sales and marketing in the Huawei Mining Business Unit — a dedicated team that the company established to offer smart solutions to mines — said, "At present, most mines at home and abroad are between the stages of mechanization and automation, with great potential for intelligence."

"In the next three to five years, digital technologies will see wider use in the mining industrial links such as transportation and mineral processing," Chen said.

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