Newcrest has partnered with telecommunications and technology company Telstra to become the first gold miner in the southern hemisphere to deliver O3b’s high-speed broadband through its new 100 megabits per second (Mbps) satellite link to the Lihir Gold Project in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea.

Newcrest LihirThe new medium-earth-orbit (MEO) satellite link, which has increased bandwidth to Lihir by over 600%, is the result of a partnership between Newcrest, Telstra and satellite service provider O3b Networks.

“Newcrest is proud to make use of this innovative new service to significantly improve the network experience at Lihir,” said the company’s chief information officer Gavin Wood.

“As well as enabling better IT and digital solutions for our operation, the new link will help to make Lihir a better place to work and live for our workforce,” he said.

The Lihir operation was previously subscribed to 6Mbps and 10Mbps geostationary satellite links 36,000km above the earth’s surface, which didn’t provide the high speed and lower latency Newcrest was looking for at this large site. Previous attempts to address the problem through microwave links and submarine fibre optic cable proved unviable, given Lihir is about 200km from the provincial capital, Kavieng.

“This new satellite link utilises medium-earth-orbit technology, approximately 8000km above the earth’s surface and delivers fibre-like bandwidth and speed to remote locations. The speed is similar to that experienced in major centres like Port Moresby,” said Gavin Wood.

“Any mining company claiming it wants to be a leader in the application of digital technologies cannot be serious about that without first delivering quality network connections to their sites.”

Newcrest’s executive general manager Cadia and Lihir, Craig Jetson, said that the Lihir workforce and community members were already benefitting from the improved technology. “This new satellite service has provided us with the opportunity to access technologies that are reliant on high bandwidth platforms. This further streamlines our operations, making us more efficient and cost effective.”

“Under the agreement, Newcrest’s Wide Area Network service will be extended by Telstra via a constellation of MEO satellites. This new satellite service is an exciting addition to Telstra’s world-class network and will see enhanced connectivity delivered to more remote locations around the world,” said Telstra’s director of Global Connectivity and Networks Jim Clarke.

“Providing reliable connectivity for remote work sites like mines or oil rigs is no longer a nice to have – it’s operationally essential,” said O3b Networks’ CEO Steve Collar. or

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