Newmont Goldcorp Boddington is a large, open-pit gold and copper mine located 120 kilometres from Western Australia’s state capital, Perth.

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Newmont Goldcorp’s Boddington mine benefiting from a new communications network

Since starting production in 2009, Boddington has become one of Australia’s largest producing goldmines. More than 2000 employees and contractors operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With over 1000 radios on the LMR network, there are many different operational teams and calls to manage: 23 talk groups make wide area calls across all radio sites.

Newmont Goldcorp Boddington operated a P25 Phase 1 FDMA trunked network, which was approaching end of life, and growth of the mine demanded more capacity. A move to TDMA technology would double the capacity of existing frequency licenses with the same amount of infrastructure. Two options were considered. Compared to P25 Phase 2, DMR Tier 3 proved to be a much more cost-effective platform to provide the mission-critical capacity that Newmont Goldcorp required.

Three Tait DMR Tier 3 radio sites cover the operational part of the mine, each with nine traffic channels. An additional five-channel site covers the accommodation area.

A standard DMR message trunking format was initially implemented. There were, however, significant differences to the user experience between the two systems.

Tait worked closely with the implementation partner to customise the system to better align the new DMR technology with the old system, safeguarding the initial user experience.

Tait implemented DMR transmission trunking in the network core, in addition to optimising the radio terminal operation. This new format is more appropriate for the nature of operations at the mine site.

A staged and carefully managed upgrade program was delivered over several days, including complete radio fleet re-programming on the live operational site. The program was planned and implemented specifically to gain user confidence and acceptance.

Luke Hamson, Fleet Management Systems, Newmont Goldcorp Boddington, said that the two-way network was critical in mining and processing operational areas.

“If at any stage the radio network goes down, it can shut down production in these areas,” explained Mr Hamson.

The Tait DMR Tier 3 network at Newmont Goldcorp Boddington now has ample capacity to accommodate for large fluctuations in usage, such at the start of each shift, or when contractors come onto the site – sometimes up to 1000 at a time.

“We are very impressed with the dedication and diligence of the Tait Engineers who came to optimise the network on site,” said Mr Hamson.

“We continue to work with Tait Managed Services who provide prompt responses and support.”

Tait Enable Fleet provided centralised control and visibility of radio fleet programming, saving time and offering peace of mind. Over-the-air software configuration and firmware updates allow Newmont Goldcorp to easily and actively manage the fleet of radios and how they operate, as well as apply new features.

Minimising the need for technicians to locate and travel to radios around the mine site for physical upgrades saves significant costs and time. It also avoids diverting mine vehicles away from the operation.

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