Namdeb Diamond Corporation (Namdeb), a joint venture between the Namibian Government and De Beers, has enhanced safety and security at its mines through the implementation of an integrated digital communications network from Altech Alcom Matomo (AAM), a division of Altech Radio Holdings (ARH). AAM was chosen to upgrade the network based on its proven track record of implementing similar solutions in the public and private sectors. The first sites went live in May 2014 and the project was completed in its entirety in December 2014. Some ten months after the conclusion of the implementation, the network performance report has revealed system availability of 99, 999%, with nearly one million calls made during that month alone.According to Brett Nash, Managing Director of AAM, safety and reliability were key components of the tender request and AAM met and exceeded these expectations with the deployment of the latest Motorola Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) 8.1 platform.Namdebs two principal safety concerns are the mineworkers themselves and the rough diamonds recovered from the mining operations. A reliable communications system will enable Namdebs mineworkers to be in touch with the central control system should they find themselves in a dangerous or threatening predicament, Nash says. Other than the planned analogue-to-digital migration, Namdeb also required a feature-rich integrated radio communication network to ensure effective and secure intercommunication between personnel, departments and mining areas.The completed integrated safety and security communication network solution is centred on 13 remote TETRA sites spread throughout the mine. In addition, the solution consists of one central switching office, two microwave link sites, three emergency control centres, one network control centre and 1 500 two-way radio users. According to Jan Sutherland, Project Manager, Strategic Projects at Namdeb, the digital communications network and two-way radio handsets connecting users has proven to be reliable in an environment that is severe, dusty and corrosive.One of the challenges associated with the project was the terrain itself. Since the nature of the terrain and mining conditions determine the quality of the communications network required, we had to be particularly strategic in our approach, ensuring the equipment rolled-out would be both sufficiently durable and resilient. Nearly 70% of the project were also roll-out as Green Sites with the introduction of Solar Power, supplying power to the Microwave and TETRA Transceiver Equipment.
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