Mining has always been one of the fundamental human commercial activities, and one of the toughest industries on earth. The major mining companies dig over 6 billion tonnes of minerals out of the ground every year, working in some of the most remote and ardours environments, with some of the biggest machinery and plant ever created. Alongside the KDMP, a modern concentrator is being built to handle the additional ore that will be produced at Konkola. The Company believes the KDMP represents the largest investment by a Zambian mining company in a shaft-sinking operation since the late 1950s and expects it to bring significant short and long-term benefits to the Zambian economy. The KDMP also includes the commissioning of a 6 Mtpa concentrator at Konkola to enhance mining output, improve recovery and improve the concentrate grade of its copper. The mining industry needs reliable, modern communications networks to continue to improve worker safety and reduce operational costs. These networks must be capable of transmitting voice, video and data throughout the mine.
There are a wide variety of important tasks in a mine that need a reliable communications systems, for example, remote monitoring and control of mining equipment, data acquisition for the various sensor networks throughout the mine (e.g. seismic monitoring) and real-time access to mine operating information. The majority of these tasks involve communication with a mobile worker, device or piece of equipment. Thus, wireless links are required in any mine communications system. But underground mines, consisting of interconnected mining rooms are a difficult environment for wireless communications and thus typical mine communications networks consist of a wired backbone with wireless access points. There is a wide selection of mine related communications systems available involving both wired and wireless implementations. The majority of these systems are proprietary and single source, which generally increases the system cost, limits expandability and, if the manufacturer encounters difficulties, may result in no product support.