Chinese tech firms are working to enhance the safety and efficiency of subterranean coal mines, which have traditionally faced challenges with internet connectivity. For instance, Yangquan Coal Industry (Group) Co in Shanxi province has implemented 5G networks with the help of China Mobile and Huawei Technologies Co, enabling the transmission of real-time data from the mine, including gas density, temperature, and humidity. The technology also facilitates video calls between workers above and below ground. While the application of 5G in mines is still in the early stages, government departments can offer technical and financial support to mines that have adopted the technology.
Shanxi province has been embracing digital technologies to pursue high-quality development, with the proportion of advanced coal production capacity in the province increasing to 80% over the past five years. In the next five years, the province aims to increase the ratio of advanced coal production capacity to about 95% and the installed capacity of new and clean energy to 54%, according to the government’s work report in 2023.
To aid this transition, Huawei has customized its self-developed operating system, HarmonyOS, for the mining sector, filling the connection gap between devices and providing services for the digital and intelligent transformation of the coal industry. Huawei has also partnered with China Energy Investment Corp to explore how to boost efficiency in coal mines using the OS. The industrial internet, which is the convergence of industrial systems with advanced computing, analytics, sensing, and connectivity, is a typical application of 5G and will enable the technology to upgrade a range of traditional sectors.
Shanxi-based companies are also developing technologies to enhance safety in coal mines, such as Jingying Shuzhi’s Mine Brain solution, developed in partnership with Huawei and the China Coal Research Institute. Powered by big data and AI, Mine Brain can optimize workplace and supervisory efficiency, replacing humans in hazardous environments and taking on tedious and repetitive tasks. The system’s computer vision capabilities can identify unsafe scenarios and issue warnings through the broadcast system, with software records generated for future safety assessments. Mine Brain’s AI model includes early warning algorithms and expert models and has already been installed in mines across the country.