Telecoms Becoming Essential Part of Mining IndustryWed, 10/21/2015 - 18:04
Telecommunication service providers are eagerly awaiting the fallout of Mexico’s telecoms and broadcasting reform. This is because the current Mexican administration is banking on the idea of breaking down some of the monopolies that have been operating within this sector for many years. To curb companies seen as overreaching, the new telecommunications law tries to facilitate the entrance of SMEs into the market while providing them with more opportunities to offer broader services. This will fulfill the government’s aim of creating a more competitive market so that the end user can have access to these services at better prices. Many firms in the sector were therefore anxiously awaiting the approval of this proposal. “The Telecommunications Reform has a direct impact on the services provided by carriers to different industrial sectors, including mining. It will create an excellent array of benefits for end users,” explains Jorge Villarreal, CEO of Elara Comunicaciones, a provider of telecoms technology
The development and deployment of such technologies and their impact on mining has drastically advanced over the past few years. The sophisticated advances seen in satellites have contributed to the improvement of bandwidth, increasing the range of connections that providers can deliver to customers in remote areas. Satellites are now capable of handling far more traffic than before, enabling industrial sectors to improve operational performance and profitability. The transmission and reception of data, voice, and video has become a fundamental aspect in mining activities. “Without telecoms technology, mining processes would be very complicated to coordinate. Maintaining communication links between engineers, operators, and mine managers is essential for efficient operations,” says Villarreal. The synchronization of mining data is a crucial factor for achieving optimal performance, as every mining company relies on the monitoring capacities of their NOCs (Network Operation Centers) which in turn depend on the connectivity response. “Some mining operations can hold up to 3,000 users behind the VSATs (Very Small Aperture Terminals), creating a real need for fast and reliable communication services. Satellite communications have proven themselves to be the most reliable solution for a mining company from a technical standpoint since they provide broader bandwidth and availability for remote mines,” he adds. Another important advantage provided by telecommunication technologies is the fluency of speed achieved in interconnections between mine operations and their headquarters.
“Being connected in real time to a mine has been vital for executives to ensure a quick decision-making process. That instantaneous response has become critical in mining activities since companies cannot afford delays,” remarks Villarreal. Satellite connectivity has also enabled the mining industry to reduce traveling costs. “Both the time gained when ordering spare parts and repair equipment, and the reduction in distance traveled by executives have been very advantageous and are contributing towards more cost-efficient mining operations.” Elara seeks to support Mexico’s main productive sectors, including mining, from the very moment exploration begins, according to Villarreal. “Due to the field support that we can provide, we can deploy satellite communications from the early exploration stage to help link exploration crews with their bases. Once methods of ground communication reach the mine, our services are transformed from main links into backup links. These start operating to substitute the primary means if it fails, thus ensuring uninterrupted communication,” he explains.
In order to further avoid any communications breakdown, Elara has spent recent years certifying its processes and training its personnel to prepare for any contingencies that might arise. A final advantage Elara offers to the mining industry is the ability to help solve a range of security issues, from setting up rapid communication with security forces as well as federal and local government agencies to helping with rapid response and to coordinate emergency teams in case of natural disasters. “Once companies know that working with increased and improved communications from inside mining facilities can bring positive changes, they will never work without them again,” concludes Villarreal.