Nkwe Platinum and South Africa Zijin Platinum, wholly-owned subsidiaries of multinational Zijin Mining Group, have joined hands with MTN and Huawei.
They have signed a collaboration agreement to build the Southern Africa region’s first 5G-enabled smart metal mine.
In the deal, MTN and Huawei are to provide 5G-based ICT solutions for the smart mining requirements, including not only high-speed 5G broadband access, but also smart mining solutions like vehicle remote control, IOT and enterprise digital transformation.
Once the project is complete, the mine will mark a significant step forward in the digital transformation of the local mining industry, the companies say in a joint statement.
It will effectively demonstrate how a number of emerging technologies can be combined with 5G to improve functions across the mine, they add.
According to the partners, this kind of advancement will become increasingly important as South Africa looks to remain competitive in the global mineral and resources space.
The country is the world’s top platinum producer and mining accounts for 8% of South African GDP, they add.
Earlier this year, MTN Business, Huawei Technologies South Africa, Miniandante Mining Company and Minetec Smart Mining signed a memorandum of understanding to offer 5G technologies equipment and connectivity.
Consultancy firm Accenture says South African mining companies are pouring millions of rands into digital technologies.
Accenture’s research shows the mining industry can create R213 billion in value through 2026 by investing in the right digital initiatives.
The latest deal comes as South Africa has taken the driver’s seat in regards to 5G tech deployments across the African continent.
In March, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa completed a delayed 5G auction, selling spectrum across 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands.
“For more than 20 years, the Zijin Mining Group has regarded scientific and technological innovation as its primary driving force, becoming one of the few multinational mining companies in the world to be equipped with autonomous system technology and engineering management capabilities, with a well-established scientific research system and practice platform,” says Fan Zhiyu, MD and CEO of Nkwe Platinum.
“In May 2021, at the mine launch, we stated we would build the Zijin Garatau Platinum Mine into a project with advanced technology, solid safety and environmental protection practices. The adoption of this 5G smart mining solution will certainly enable the Zijin Mining Group to deliver on that promise, and to establish the mine’s technology-led global competitiveness.
“The development of metal minerals is laborious and technical work. Therefore, the Zijin Mining Group regards ‘informatisation’ and intelligence as key strategic directions, and actively explores technical solutions that can improve the safety, process automation and benefits of mining,” he adds.
“The Zijin Garatau Platinum Mine in South Africa is one of the Zijin Mining Group’s major overseas projects. The collaboration with MTN and Huawei will help the Zijin Mining Group build its first high-tech and safe overseas smart mine, brimming with socio-economic value, from the initial stage of construction. We will also work hard to promote sustainable development in Africa.”
Wanda Matandela, chief enterprise officer at MTN Business, says: “Smart mining continues to be a buzzword in South Africa. At MTN Business, we are excited to be playing a leading role in this space by using our world-class network and systems to promote the growth and sustainability of our enterprise customers. 5G technology is a game-changer that will transform old mining processes.
“We have invested over R50 billion in modernising our network for the past five years. This investment has put MTN in a greater position to offer cutting-edge, faster and seamless connectivity to its customers. The partnership will see all parties involved reaping the benefits of our best network,” Matandela adds.
“Digital transformation has become a global trend across numerous industries, and 5G has undoubtedly accelerated this,” notes Peng Song, president of Huawei Global Carrier Marketing & Solution.
“We feel very excited to work with Zijin and MTN to open Southern Africa’s first 5G metal smart mine.
“Huawei is currently bringing its 5G-based ICT solutions into the mining industry and building a cross-industry ecosystem to continuously improve network connectivity to help telcos maximise network value, and also help the mining industry build safe and smart mining projects through the capabilities of 5GtoB,” he comments.
According to the companies, this project coincides with a critical period of digital transformation in Africa’s mining industry.