Underground Wireless Communication

CIM Vancouver 2006
Cam McPhee, Lester Cey,
Abstract For many years, mining companies and telecom providers have treated underground communication much differently than above-ground communication. Above-ground communications systems have continued to evolve, while underground communication has not kept pace. Until recently the assumption has been that underground communication simply could not be as efficient and convenient.

Recently, Agrium deployed a wireless Voice over IP infrastructure that supports two-way voice communication as well as real-time data applications. This infrastructure is integrated with the above-ground telecommunications system and enhances safety while supporting increased productivity and efficiency.

Agrium’s potash mine is located near Vanscoy, 30 minutes west of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Agrium worked with SaskTel to create a positive business case that was accepted by Agrium’s senior management. Together, Agrium and SaskTel deployed an infrastructure consisting of fiber, data switches, and access points to provide wireless coverage to the entire underground operation at Agrium’s potash mine.

The most exciting part still lies ahead. Data applications, like mobile equipment tracking and real-time remote monitoring of mining machines from the surface, are becoming a reality. Agrium and SaskTel look forward to sharing our experience in combining technology with critical business decisions for a win-win situation.
Keywords: SaskTel, Underground Communications, Voice over IP, Productivity, Data communications, wireless communications, Communication, Saftey, Agrium, Efficiency
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