Scope of Supply

Northern Light Technologies (NLT) supplied the Volcan Chungar Mine project with an underground Wi-Fi network capable of supporting mine tracking software used to locate assets and vehicles inside the site’s complex, heavily travelled, intersecting roadways. Spectra Link VoIP handsets provided voice communications to the surface PBX over a total range of 5 kilometers. Wi-Fi tracking tags and NLT’s Digital Mine Tracking Software were also implemented for asset tracking, with mine personnel outfitted in NLT GII incandescent cap lamps.

Site Detail

Volcan’s Chungar mine is located six hours drive inland, west of Lima, Peru, at an altitude of 15,700 feet (4,800 metres). The mine site consists of underground and surface operations mining zinc, copper, silver, and lead. Volcan Chungar employs approximately 600 people underground and runs two, twelve-hour shifts per day. Access to the underground is on foot or in a vehicle along the mine roadways, or via the shaft.

Project Challenges

The Chungar project presented a unique set of challenges. With the majority of personnel speaking Spanish, a language barrier existed that extended to documentation, training, and technical support. Fortunately, NLT has many Spanish-speakers on staff, so the issue was easily mitigated. Acclimating NLT Professional Services staff to the mine and its altitude took several days. The provision of a feasible replacement parts plan also had to be considered, due to the distance of the Chungar project to any major urban centre.

Project Details

It took a total of three trips to the mine over three weeks by NLT personnel to commission the digital system.

Vulcan’s ultimate goals through installing the Wi-Fi network include both increased productivity and overall cost savings through improved efficiencies. They plan to eventually use the Wi-Fi network to automate some functions, including controlling fans and pumps. The current Chungar system consists of a combination of two and three radio access points (so far totaling 24), with additional inventories of NLT Digital equipment so the network can be expanded as required. Each access point has between one and three antennas pointing down the tunnel, ensuring maximum coverage from a single node.

At this point, the mine is only using tracking to determine the underground location of vehicles and critical equipment; however, they plan to look at the tracking of personnel in the future. The mine is also considering installing a traffic control system to manage the vehicles and personnel travelling along the many intersecting roadways that exist underground.