Oct 21, 2020

China opens first privately built 5G mining network

Scott Birch
3 min
Mobile network began operations on October 17 at a coal mine in Shandong as part of China’s drive to modernise industries with digital infrastructure
Mobile network began operations on October 17 at a coal mine in Shandong as part of China’s drive to modernise industries with digital infrastructure...

China’s first privately built 5G mobile network for mining began operations at a coal mine in the eastern coastal province of Shandong on October 17, as part of the Chinese government’s drive for industries to modernise with leading digital infrastructure.

In a statement, Shandong Energy Group says that the 5G network was independently built and deployed at its subsidiary Baodian Coal Mine’s operations. The next generation mobile system delivers faster data transmission inside the mine – reaching less than 20 milliseconds, as compared to three to four seconds on 4G technology, according to a report by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).

The difference enables workers to have better control over the operations of mining equipment deployed hundreds of metres underground. With peak data rates up to 100 times faster than current 4G mobile networks, 5G has been described as the ‘connective tissue’ for the Internet of Things, autonomous cars and smart cities, among other new mobile applications that will establish the backbone of an industrial internet.

Li Xiyong, secretary of CPC Shandong Energy Group Committee and Chairman of Shandong Energy Group, says that intelligent mining is the fourth technological revolution of the Chinese coal industry, and that the implementation of an energy security strategy in the coal industry is the only way and the inevitable choice for quality development. 

He adds that Shandong Energy has established the China’s first joint laboratory of a 5G+ smart coal mine and independently developed the world’s first set of reliable mine-use 5G network system, which has been granted national safety certificate of mine-use products. 

The complete set of 5G systems have been applied in several big coal mines, marking a cornerstone of the application of new-type infrastructure in coal industry. 

Shandong Energy’s next plan is, in line with the planning of a national digital economy, to carry out its strategy of innovation with focus on digitalisation of product innovation, intelligentisation of production and operation, ecologicalisation of sectors.

The 5G gear used in the Boadian Coal Mine was supplied by Beidou Tiandi, an equipment maker for smart mining and manufacturing. Founded in 2010, it became part of the Shandong Energy Group in August 2020, after Yankuang Group, another state-owned coal mining enterprise and the gear maker’s controlling shareholder, merged with Shandong Energy Group.

The network includes mine-use 5G core networks, 5G base stations, 5G base station controllers, and 5G high reliable controllers, 5G edge computing controllers, 5G CPE, 5G smart phones, etc., which can be widely used in extremely harsh coal mine production control scenarios.

Wang Guofa, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, says that the mine-use 5G private network system is a highway network paved for the intelligent construction of coal mines. 

The 5G private network developed by Shandong Energy BeidouTiandi Company is the world's first dedicated 5G network for coal mines, which is in line with the needs of the intelligent construction of coal mines. Additionally, it is particularly beneficial for coal mine enterprises to promote intelligent coal construction and intelligent systems, he concludes.

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Jun 30, 2021

Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech

Rio Tinto
3 min
Rio Tinto and Alcoa’s JV project ELYSIS has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint

Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production

ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.

The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).

The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.

The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.

ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.

ELYSIS technology at a glance:

  • The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
  • The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
  • In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
  • ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.

ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.

Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.


Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”

Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”

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