Cerrejón Coal Mine, Colombia

The customer

Cerrejón produces about 22 million metric tonnes of coal per year and has been operating for almost 30 years.

Cerrejón carries out a full range of mining activities - encompassing the exploration, production, transportation and shipment of high grade thermal coal. A 150km rail system links the mine with the Puerto Bolívar export terminal, with an average of seven trains despatched every day. The mine, railroad, port and support facilities operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Facilities that support the mine operation include two airports, satellite communication and advanced information systems in all areas.

The challenge

Cerrejón needed robust, reliable communications for about 1,500 staff spread over its range of operations 150km apart. The company was communicating through conventional radio networks before implementing a Tait solution, and was experiencing high congestion levels on the networks. Efficient communications between Cerrejón Coal's widespread operations is critical to productivity. The 90 teams working at different levels of the operation were sharing conventional radio channels, and users often had to wait for a conversation to finish before the channel was free to make a call. Also, users could hear other's conversations which meant security was compromised.

The solution

Cerrejón needed a reliable trunked network that would allow for private and secure communications, as well as group calling and emergency calling to link all staff. The company chose a seven-site, 48-channel TaitNet TN3100 MPT 1327 trunked system for communications at the mining operation. The greater channel availability of the trunked radio network means users at Cerrejón Coal can communicate when they need to, without having to wait for a channel to become free.

The system provides for some 1,500 users, from the truck drivers transporting coal from the mine to the trains, to the port terminal staff and maintenance staff. Two TaitNet 1541 Node Controllers have been implemented at Cerrejón, a main node and a standby node, and three Line-connected Despatcher Terminals are used so despatch staff can efficiently manage all radio system users.

The trunked system is also interfaced with Cerrejón's PABX network and PSTN lines, providing integrated communications across all sites.

The outcome

Cerrejón staff now have robust and reliable communications at all times. Group calling has provided greater efficiency, and private, secure conversations are now possible.