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Developing the Foundation Communication Infrastructure to Support Remote and Automated Mining Initiatives in Underground Mines


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Author R Paine and D Kent


Automated mining systems are increasingly being seen as a key requirement for a productive mining operation in the future. The importance of an integrated communication network infrastructure to support such systems is growing.

This paper outlines the introduction of automated mining systems in large conventional mines as well as their growing role in block cave mines currently operating or being developed. The paper will then focus on a case study of how the communication infrastructure is fundamental to the operation of such systems and explain why the resultant communication networks require much more than just increased bandwidth (data capacity) to properly support the automation system within the overall mine operation.

Mining operations
already embarking down this road are discovering that the required network must
be based on a true enterprise level architecture to not only enable the mine’s
current plans for remote and automated mining, but also provide a scalable and
integrated platform for future developments and requirements. The emerging
issues for the communication network to truly support automation systems

  • increased complexities of operating and maintaining multiple networks

  • integration issues with disparate systems

  • problems with reporting particularly as demands for corporate reporting and compatibility with enterprise systems become the norm

  • ongoing management challenges, which will only increase with the
    proliferation of new technologies.

The paper will explore how certain mining operations are addressing this by adopting a long-term strategy for automation deployment, which includes laying the necessary foundation architecture to meet their current requirements, while supporting their future visions for the fully automated mine.


Paine, R and Kent, D, 2014. Developing the foundation
communication infrastructure to support remote and automated mining initiatives
in underground mines, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM Underground Operators’
Conference 2014
, pp 151–158 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and
Metallurgy: Melbourne).