Lepanto Mining is one of the oldest mining companies in the Philippines, dating back to 1936. Most of its activities are located in the resource rich mountains of Benguet, which are located in the Cordillera Administrative Region, north of Manila, on the main island of Luzon.
The Lepanto mines are located in Mankayan, Benguet where the company has about a thousand employees. Since 1997, the company has largely focused on its gold mining operations in the Victoria and Teresa deposits, but in 2017 it resumed copper mining as well.
As part of an effort to improve productivity and safety standards, the management embarked on a project to update its communications system. The existing communication solution was a wired telephony system, which was prone to downtime and only provided limited coverage.
The main challenge was to provide reliable and seamless communications between the surface and underground areas of operation. Lepanto also wanted the ability to track personnel inside the mine tunnels.
Lepanto also needed rugged and durable radio units able to operate safely and continuously in the high humidity and wet working environment of the mines. The radio units also needed to provide loud, clear audio in a high-noise environment, so that critical messages could be heard.
Hytera and its local partner Microbiz One Inc. of Manila, selected a Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) two-way radio solution based on VHF frequencies. Two Hytera RD98XS DMR conventional repeaters provide enough channel and talk groups to meet the operational and safety requirements.
The repeaters are linked together using the Hytera IP Site Connect solution. The signal is distributed along the underground tunnels using a leaky feeder, radiating cable system. This delivers the required geographic coverage, capacity and roaming functionality to enable seamless communications between the surface and underground areas.
MD78XG (with GPS positioning services) and MD65X mobile base radios were installed at key points in the underground tunnels to provide calling stations. Mining personnel were issued with PD78XG DMR hand portable radios with integrated GPS, so mine workers can be tracked and monitored within the vicinity, making it much easier to locate them if there is an accident or if someone needs help.
The PD78XG radios feature a large-size display screen for status updates and text messaging. The radios are compliant with MIL-STD 810 C/D/E/F for resistance to shock, drops and vibration and IP67 standards for resistance to dust and moisture ingress.
The Lepanto mines now have a mobile two-way radio system, which ensures reliable communications between the surface areas and underground operations. This helps deliver more efficient operations, better productivity and an enhanced safety regime for mining personnel.
The digital radio delivers a better audio quality able to cope with the noisy conditions at the mines and wider coverage to ensure there are no communication ‘not-spots’. The ruggedized radio terminals provide a good long term investment as they are highly durable and able to withstand harsh environments, high, humid temperatures, knocks and drops.