China's first 5G smart coal mine located in Shanxi province will establish its intelligent mining system by 2021, according to a senior executive on Sunday.
Wang Qinhao, chairman of the board of Pangpangta Coal Mine under Huozhou Coal and Electricity Group, said the 5G intelligent coal mining system has covered intelligent operation, excavating, conveying and other mining processes. The construction of a 5G industrial internet, a key part of the system which connects the above-ground and under-ground networks, is almost finished.
"In the future, we hope that mining can be done by employees wearing suits sitting in front of computer screens," said Liu Chunping, a manager of Pangpangta Coal Mine.
Before having the 5G management system, the existing wired communication technology cannot meet the need for real-time monitoring in mines, according to Liu.
And the production lines of mines are usually very long, ranging from tens to hundreds of kilometers, which limits the real-time monitoring coverage. As a result, when there are signs of emergency, the workers cannot escape in time.
Apart from that, Liu said, the coal mine production operation cannot be done in one place, but in a long shaft, which requires workers to operate equipment on-the-spot in deep mines. The existing mobile communication technology cannot satisfy the management requirement.
At present, Pangpangta Coal Mine has completed the construction of 144 5G-base stations, and the 5G network has covered 72 kilometers underground. By the end of next year, the number of miners working in the shafts in Pangpangta Coal Mine will drop by more than 50 percent. It will complete the construction of transport systems, a data center and the ground networks by then.
Han Xiaodong, head of the coal mine's intelligentialization working group, said that the biggest obstacle to their 5G project is the lack of "teachers". Lacking operational experience and research of 5G technology in coal industry, they have few opportunities to learn the skills. Another problem is the lack of in-depth cooperation with high-level research institutions and large enterprises, according to Han.
In October 2019, Pangpangta Coal Mine signed a 5G cooperation agreement with China Unicom and started on explosion prevention and field test. The company completed the 5G network construction in April this year.
According to government policies issued this year, "intelligentialization of mining" is the core to the high-quality development of the coal industry. A smaller number of workers will go underground mining by the end of 2021.