Nokia builds private 5G network in a Lapland goldmine

Gold mine
(Image credit: Agnico Eagle)

Nokia and Telia are building a private 5G network at a gold mine in Northern Finland, helping Agnico Eagle Finland digitise its operations and take advantage of Industry 4.0 applications.

A private 5G network is one that provides dedicated access to a specific customer, using either licensed, unlicensed, or shared spectrum, with no resources shared by any third party.

By pursuing this route, customers can define the scale, pace of rollout, and technology used, while guaranteeing a certain level of performance for their applications.

Nokia gold mine 5G

While it’s difficult to say that 5G will literally be worth its gold in this instance given mobile networks use invisible electromagnetic spectrum, Agnico Eagle hopes the network will accelerate its digital transformation, while Nokia believes it is an ideal showcase for how private infrastructure can aid organisations even in the most remote and extreme conditions.

Nokia already has 380 private network customers across the world, including 35 in the mining industry.

“This is another great example of how collaboration across the ecosystem is essential for developing winning technology solutions to meet productivity, safety and sustainability targets,” said Stephan Litjens, Head of Enterprise Solutions at Nokia.

“Nokia industrial private wireless networks provide secure, reliable connectivity to meet the stringent operational demands of today’s mining industry, and 5G enables even greater levels of performance.”

The Kittilä mine is the largest primary gold producer in Europe and is located 900km north of the capital Helsinki and 150km north of the Arctic Circle in Lapland. It spans 192 square km and approximately 16km of tunnels are developed each year.

The network will provide reliable, secure, low latency coverage throughout the mine’s extensive labyrinth of tunnels, allowing Agnico Eagle to connect people, equipment, sensors, devices, and vehicles at depths of up to 1km below the Earth’s surface.

This will allow the company to deploy applications that use real time data processing at the network edge, autonomous vehicles, high precision positioning, and group communications. All of these use cases will improve the reliability of the mine, the safety of workers, and the quality and efficiency of the operation.

“Having already piloted autonomous and remotely controlled machinery in recent years, we chose to work with Nokia, Telia and Digita to deliver capabilities for the next phase of our digital transformation journey,” said Tommi Kankkunen, the mine’s general manager.

“We want to innovate by using the latest technologies and will leverage the Nokia 5G SA private network to enhance operational efficiency and support the highest level of safety for teams working at the mine.”

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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.