No matter what phase the mine site is in – exploration, development, operation or relocation – there is a vital need for remote communications. The ability to deliver effective voice, data and video connectivity will impact every element of a site's operations. Some of the common applications for a remote communications are outlined below.
Remote site offices have exactly the same requirement for office applications as any office network. The personnel on-site need access to standard business applications in addition to email, internet and telephony services. Increasingly, applications such as file transfer, video transfer and VPN access are becoming common requirements.
Excellent voice services can't be confined to the office. It has to extend to any accommodation areas on site. When the field team are on-site for weeks or months at a time, voice services become an essential lifeline. Being able to communicate with the outside world – friends and family – is vital to moral and well being.
Within the mining industry, effective enterprise resource planning is essential. The ability to access SAP applications from any site is an important part of any communications solution. Datasat Communications has experience of delivering high performance, highly secure SAP access to remote sites to enable effective resource allocation and financial management.
Increasingly, field technicians are using still images and video to work with headquarters to analyse the correct areas of a site to explore. This requires the ability to exchange large files through email or secure file transfer as well as conferencing and video conference facilities to productively discuss the material and resultant analysis.
Asset management and surveillance
Site productivity requires that an operator can fully exploit its on-site assets. This requires being able to monitor, measure and manage the operation of all assets from drill rigs to trucks. In addition, in such a remote, open and exposed environment as a land mine, the operator has to be able to ensure that its assets are secure. On-site surveillance systems offer an effective solution as long as they can be centrally managed from the corporate headquarters or local field office.
Site and miner safety
Today there are many excellent solutions for monitoring the safety of the mine and the people operating within it. When the people who are responsible for the management of these systems are not on-site, an effective and reliable communications infrastructure is essential to ensure that safety information is reaching the right people in real-time. For example, small and remote mine sites are unlikely to have a full medical staff. Tele-medicine allows site personnel to consult quickly with medical professionals off-site via voice or video conferencing should an emergency occur.
Corporate social responsibility
The miners for larger sites are often drawn from the local communities surrounding the mine. In many cases, the mine becomes the prime employer within the area and an essential part of the local community's livelihood. Mine operators are increasingly taking a more active role in the development of these communities as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives. With a VSAT network, the communications infrastructure established for the mine site can be easily extended for local villages to enable the delivery of educational content, entertainment and data communications services.
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