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Rio Tinto to deploy Alcatel-Lucent 4G in Pilbara for mining automation

Mining giant Rio Tinto is set to deploy its own private 4G LTE network in the Pilbara region of Western Australia with Alcatel-Lucent.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

As part of mining giant Rio Tinto's move towards automation, the company will deploy a 4G long-term evolution network with Alcatel-Lucent at its West Angelas mine in the Pilbara region in Western Australia.

The network vendor has said that the 4G network it will provide for Rio Tinto will operate in the 1800MHz spectrum band and will include base stations, evolved packet core, and backhaul using microwave packet radio. It will be managed by Alcatel-Lucent's Service Aware Manager network management service.

The network will allow for the fast delivery of data for in-pit mining of iron ore, as well as allowing the company to remotely monitor the operations and deliver production and safety systems into the mine.

Rio Tinto embarked on a Mine of the Future business plan in 2008 for the West Angelas mine, which is implementing a range of automated functionality into the mine, including driverless trains and trucks.

In the company's most recent investor update, Rio Tinto said that the project was fast becoming a competitive advantage and would yield a number of significant savings for the mining company, including not having to recruit 900 extra personnel into the mine and the ability to anticipate problems that may arise within the mine.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority's (ACMA's) proposal last week to make changes to the licensing of 1800MHz spectrum in regional and remote Australia is likely to benefit the roll out of the 4G network for Rio Tinto, as the ACMA has indicated that it will allocate some spectrum to mining and energy companies for the deployment of private 4G networks.

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