Las Bambas goes digital

Las Bambas copper miner. Photo by Minera Las Bambas.

After a turbulent first half of the year marked by protests and blockades, Peru’s Minera Las Bambas just announced some good news.

The company, a joint venture project between MMG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China’s Guoxin International Investment, and CITIC Metal Co. Ltd., signed a contract this week with Nokia and Telefónica Perú to enable digitalization and automation projects at its site located in southern-central region of Apurímac.

“This private LTE network will allow the Las Bambas mine to increase productivity and automation and, in doing so, embrace the Fourth Industrial revolution” – Osvaldo Di Campli, Head of Latin America for Nokia

The contract, which includes planning the site’s capacity and providing technical support for the next five years, entails the building and deploying of a private LTE network 4,600 metres above sea level. This network should connect all sensors, machines and workers in a flexible way. Once the initial deployment has been finalized, an assessment of the mine applications has to be done in order to begin services migration to the new network. 

Such new network is expected to improve existing wireless service and allow Las Bambas to put in place additional safety solutions, as well as reduce the operating costs of its Tetra communication system. “As the network evolves further towards 5G, the Las Bambas mine will also benefit from push-to-talk and push-to-video,” a corporate press release states.

Las Bambas, considered the world’s ninth-largest copper mine with a production of 385,000 tonnes of copper in 2018 or about 2% of the global output, is the first operation in the South American country to deploy the new technology.

“This is an important milestone for Minera Las Bambas as it will enable a series of new automation technology solutions increasing productivity in our mining operation as well as supporting more advanced automation to improve worker safety,” Miguel Canz, Regional Technology Manager at Minera Las Bambas, said in the media brief.

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