Europe’s largest gold mine is set to become host to a new standalone (SA) 5G private network deployed by Nokia and Telia.

Nokia has announced it will deploy the 5G SA network for Agnico Eagle Finland at the Kittilä mine which is situated around 900km north of Helsinki.

The mine comprises an extensive tunnel system which goes as far as one kilometre beneath the earth’s surface. The private 5G network will use edge computing to allow Agnico to bring data storage and computation to the point of need above and below ground including positioning and mechanical operations as well as the deployment of autonomous vehicles.

The network is set to be deployed in phases, with Nokia highlighting the need for a phased approach when deploying infrastructure and propagating signals underground. Given that, Swedish telecoms group Telia said the two companies expected to complete by October 2022.

Tommi Kankkunen, mine general manager, said: “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.

“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.”

The deployment marks a first full 5G SA network deployment in a gold mine with Nokia having previously trialled private 5G network equipment in mines in Brazil and Chile and Ericsson recently teaming with MTS to deploy a private network at Russia’s largest iron ore mining and processing plant, JSC Karelsky Okatysh.

The Kittila mine is the largest primary gold producer in Europe and since gold was first poured in 2009 it has also become home to Agnico Eagle's largest mineral reserves which are predominantly based around the Arctic Circle.

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Author: Richard Hook