Indonesia’s Minister for State-Owned Enterprises, Erick Thohir, said the trial would represent the first major 5G mining pilot in Southeast Asia

With its low latency, excellent reliability, and high capacity, 5G is being heralded as a game changer for numerous industries, helping to enable edge computing, AI, and the IoT. 

Perhaps one of the most prominent industries to emerge as a proponent of early 5G adoption is mining, where 5G is expected not only to increase operational efficiencies through automation, but also drastically improve worker safety through real-time monitoring and remote working.

Now, it seems that this trend is set to extend to Indonesia, with the announcement that Indonesian copper and gold miner Freeport Indonesia has partnered with local telco Telkom Group to trial 5G mining technology. 

The focus of the trial will be around using 5G to remotely pilot the heavy vehicles, like excavators, allowing the operators to work with zero risk to their health. 

“Mining at depth is very difficult and it is important to protect the workers working in the mine, so 5G works to maintain operational safety,” said Indonesia’s Minister for State-Owned Enterprises, Erick Thohir.

Here, Telkom were keen to point out the necessity of 5G for this trial, suggesting that the low latency would be vital to avoiding potentially disastrous operational mistakes. 

“You can imagine if the response given by the vehicle is too late or after advancing a few meters, the equipment could fall into a ravine,” the general manager of Telkomsel’s Network Strategic Roadmap, Christian Guna Gustiana, told the media.

The pilot programme is expected to launch in May, with Thohir expressing hopes that Prime Minister Joko Widodo would attend the event.

This development comes as the latest in a long string of 5G-related mining pilots taking place all over the world. In the last three months alone we have seen at least three such announcements: in October, Ericsson said it was working with Russian operator MTS to deploy a 5G-ready private network for an iron ore mine in the Republic of Karelia; in November, Nokia announced similar plans for a 5G standalone private network in a goldmine in Finland; and just week Ericsson announced it was partnering with location tech specialist HERE in order to develop custom mapping tools for mining operations. 

As the world races to embrace Industry 4.0, it seems that mining may be one of the first sectors to truly explore the potential of 5G. 

Want to keep up to date with the latest developments in the world of telecoms? Subscriber to receive Total Telecom’s daily newsletter here
Also in the news: