A Cochrane-area mine is the first in Canada to be fully connected to 5G, according to an announcement this week.
Kirkland Lake Gold and Rogers Business announced the launch of the 5G wireless private network on Jan. 26. The public cell coverage will also be boosted with eight new wireless cell towers that are being built to cover a stretch of more than 180 kilometres on Highway 652 between the mine site and Cochrane.
Seven of the eight towers will be powered by wind and solar energy. The network should be fully accessible by this summer.
“Bringing a 5G wireless private network to Detour Lake provides the stable and reliable service we need as we build the digital mine of the future," said Tony Makuch, Kirkland Lake Gold's president and CEO, in a news release.
"Not only does the new network provide an extra layer of connectivity for our employees, it also enables us to drive mining innovation and technology into the future by expanding tele-remote drill operations and research into potential autonomous haul trucks."
The network will also create a safer work environment and the connectivity along the highway will make travelling safer for everyone using the highway, he said.
For the 5G network, Rogers has set up five cell towers with full-range spectrum frequency bands with a full failover backup system, according to the announcement. There is private access to the network across the 80-square-kilometre operation at Detour Lake Mine.
“The wireless private network at Detour Lake Mine will enable mission-critical industrial applications to power the digital mine of the future and we’re proud to be at the forefront, helping to deliver new innovations to Canadian businesses first," said Ron McKenzie, Rogers Business president, in the release.
Last year, Agnico Eagle and Kirkland Lake Gold shareholders voted in favour of merging the companies. The deal is expected to be finalized early this year.
Kirkland Lake Gold has committed to a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050 or sooner.
Along with alternative sources of energy, Makuch said at an event last September that the company is looking at investing in innovation and digitization.
The 5G network will help explore new solutions.
"These include teleremote operations, industrial IoT (Internet of Things) sensors to provide real-time insight into operations, drones that can deliver supplies to the bottom of the mine, future autonomous haulage vehicles, and exploration work.," reads the release.
"All of these applications will be monitored and managed through a digital dashboard to improve efficiencies and productivity at the site."
To deliver the wireless private network, Rogers is working with Cradlepoint, Dell Technologies, Ericsson and Expeto.