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Mine finds its digital microwave system worth its weight in gold.

Like all businesses, Newmont Gold Company explored a variety of options before upgrading communications equipment and facilities. We considered system capacity, features, reliability and, of course, cost before deciding what configuration would work best.

But unlike most businesses, Newmont Gold's communications facilities would have to function flawlessly under some rather unusual conditions. For example, around-the clock blasting and excavating are part of the daily operation at Newmont Gold--the world's largest open pit gold mine.

In addition, heavy equipment such as hydraulic shovels, front-end loaders and dump trucks are constantly moving to and from the mine sites, mills and labs. What's more, as the business grows, the pit gets wider and deeper, making it impossible to locate permanent structures nearby.

Given those operating conditions and our increasingly sophisticated communications requirements, an 18 GHz digital microwave network emerged as the most cost-effective and reliable choice for Newmont Gold. Unlike traditional underground or aerial copper facilities, microwave is versatile and can grow with the changing mine terrain.

Newmont Gold has grown to become the largest producer of gold in North America. Last year Newmont gold produced 1.6 million ounces of gold, up from 474,000 ounces just five years ago. As the business grew and mining operations expanded, our communications needs increased.

Data communications requirements became staggering as mining migrated from a manual operation to one that relies heavily on computers. As a result, we needed a fully digital communications system that offered network connectivity and cost reduction. We wanted a totally integrated system that could meet voice and data needs throughout a geographically dispersed area.

Voice communications

Newmont Gold's microwave network contains six digital points of presence (POPs) that serve as the company's communications backbone connecting nearly 2,100 employees along the 40-mile stretch of property. Some POPs are solar powered because commercial power lines are not always available to remote sites.

For voice communications there are four Definity Communication System Generic Is that are situated throughout the mine site. The four systems function as one large switch, offering users the features and convenience that come with using a single communications system.

For example, employees simply dial a four-digit extension number when calling anywhere in the Nevada location. Newmont Gold's network is connected by TI lines to Newmont Mining Company headquarters in Denver.

To achieve this connectivity and unify all systems, we rely on Distributed Communication System (DCS) software. It makes boundaries between systems transparent to users and speeds calling. Use of DCS software has been so successful that we're planning to incorporate other mining locations into the network.

By using the microwave network to connect the Definity Systems, Newmont Gold eliminated costs for D4 channel banks, analog trunks and operators at each mine site. We've also saved about 30% per month on long-distance calls with Megacom Service and tie lines to Denver.

Data communications

The vast majority of Newmont Gold's microwave network is used for data communications. Today almost all aspects of the mining industry are computerized. Mine layouts and digging plans, environmental impact studies and engineering data are produced on mini- and microcomputers. Also, a mainframe computer stores mine models and blasthole data bases.

Considerable quantities of data are transmitted to Denver headquarters each day using multiplexers that reduce communications costs and enable us to expand data services beyond the 64 kb/s bandwidth.

In addition, microwave connects data terminals to the mainframe in a huge warehouse facility where we order, ship and receive equipment, process maintenance requests and schedule use of trucks and other machinery.

Newmont Gold has enjoyed tremendous growth and success in recent years due to continued exploration, development of resources, and progressive management. Computerized lab facilities and electronic controls in our processing plant also enabled us to be more productive and to expand. But there's no doubt in my mind that our integrated, digital, state-of-the-art communications system was a factor in our growth too.

We rely on the system's advanced communications capabilities to run this business every day.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Microwave Networks; Newmont Gold Co.
Author:Jordan, Don
Publication:Communications News
Date:Sep 1, 1992
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