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Communications to remote mine site

We (Vianet Inc) were approached this year by Harte Gold running a remote mine in a small northern Ontario town with a population of about 1000 people. The mine by roads is about another 50km into the bush after leaving the town, but as the bird flies is only about 24km… We worked with the local cell provider to gain access to their tower.

We installed a 3ft slant 45 dish with an AF5X radio on the cell tower. On the other side at Harte Gold we installed a 2ft with ISO beam and AF5X.



We also put a titanium sector up with an AC Prism radio to feed all the trailers.



This was all built on a massive rock formation where we built a concrete pad right on the rock to level it.



On top of this we installed a 96ft Trylon T200 tower. With the level concrete it made very easy to level the tower… The mine then helped us out by drilling holes for the rock bolts for the tower which we then set in with grout. The rock bolts were eventually big pieces of rebar with a special nut that grips them, and were 5 ft long…



Next we needed power for the towers. For the cell tower we installed a telephone pole and ran conduit over to the tower. Here we put a Vertiv (Liebert or Emmerson) cabinet with a NetSure 200 dc power plant. Inside we put a 12 port Netonix dc switch with a -48 to +48v converter to power the site up.



On the Harte Gold site we decided to give a new fuel cell technology a try. We went with an Efoy setup which combines solar panels with a methanol fuel cell. Here we had 24V so we needed to convert it from 24V to 48V for the netonix which, this time an 8 port dc switch.




For the trailers we used nanobeam 5ac gen 2, with a cisco SG300 switch, unifi AC lite, and Cisco SPA514g phones. Most of the trailers have about a 1 year life span so cabling was kept simple…



In their Main office though, it was 7 trailers that were combine into one big office. When they moved the trailer up there all the wiring had been cut, so we needed to re-wire the entire thing. Here we ran everything nicely into the rack, terminated and tested each drop. We also installed a Cisco 891F router and 52 port SG300 switch to power all the phones…



So far feedback has been good because they went from using very spotty cell service to having clear phone calls and internet that is solid now.

on ‎09-14-2017 11:16 AM

Interesting!  Is the Efoy fuel cell just used for backup power, or is someone changing the methanol every few days?  Is the telephone pole just for future?

‎09-14-2017 02:05 PM - edited ‎09-14-2017 02:51 PM

The efoy is the back up to the solar panels. The solar carries most of the load, but in the winter the Efoy will take over and generate the power that the solar can't produce. Those 2 jugs you see in there should last between 12 and 18 months. It was too costly for the mine to run a cable across the mine to the tower from the generators, so this solution should have a life span of about 10+ years. The jugs themselves are also UN or NATO rated as well so they can fly in planes/helecoptors...


The telephone pole was due the cell providers requirement that we don't attach the power/cabinet to their building.

on ‎09-14-2017 03:04 PM

very cool!

on ‎09-14-2017 08:45 PM

Isn't it cheaper to just put a wind generator backup ?

on ‎09-14-2017 09:50 PM

Nice telecom job.  


on ‎09-15-2017 08:39 AM

tech53, yes wind would have probably been cheaper, but there was restrictions there as to what could be done. There is a fly in lodge close by so they didn't want to be seen or heard as part of their contract with the ministry of the enviroment... We would have had to go up higher for the wind as they are surrounded by trees there...


thanks, acriollo. We re-used all the existing rack stuff there so we tried to rip out pretty much everything we didn't need, then re-wired... I let my co-worker clean it all up nice nice...

on ‎09-15-2017 09:17 AM

When there's gold and copper to be found there's always good budget for communication projects!

We did a 65km fiber pull for a mining company a couple years ago.  The engineers now looking to netflix in the middle of the jungle. 

on ‎09-15-2017 02:54 PM

Ya I am just amazed how they can find little peices of gold out in the middle of the bush... We were looking at a rock on one of their desks and one of them was like can you find the gold. I could see the little spec within about 2 seconds, but it was very small and dull looking...


on ‎09-16-2017 11:20 AM

This is such a cool installation.


Can you share approximate costs, and usable temperature range for all the equipment? Have an idea for a similar remote location, but temps get to -30F during the worst of the winter and I'm wondering how well batteries, fuel cells, etc handle that kind of cold.

on ‎09-16-2017 12:34 PM

The Efoy system for the size and accessories we ordered was around 20k Canadian. The nice thing about that is the by products are heat and water vapor, so the water vapor is let out the bottom of the cabinet and the heat helps keep the cabinet warm... The inside is also fully insulated as well to help keep the heat in... I don't have a temp range handy, but we do get up to -40C/F at times so it will be a good test in the winter.


The other cabinet Vertiv, I believe was around 3k (we already had it in stock) so I don't know the exact price. Its made of some very thick steel, but that one is on hydro power so I can probably put some battery warmers or a heater in it...