Strata’s Communication Systems Make History

StrataConnect DigitalBRIDGE and IoT Gateway recently recorded a first: the ringing of the NYSE opening bell for mine owner Idaho Strategic Resources by its crew – who were located deep underground thousands of miles away at the Golden Chest (GC) gold operation. 

By Donna Schmidt

Photo: Idaho Strategic Resources

Underground communications technology has never stopped evolving from the moment the technology made its way to the mining face. That evolution has been non-negotiable as the demands of customers and mine conditions dictate more and more robust, stronger and uber-efficient design.

There’s no doubt that communications system developers have met that call to action. For Strata Worldwide, that includes the launching of DigitalBRIDGE, a fiber replacement coaxial cable network, along with the StrataConnect IoT Gateway. The IoT gateway supports open standard high-speed Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and LoRa for underground communication, tracking and IoT. It leverages existing underground infrastructures including DigitalBRIDGE, fiber, Ethernet and Strata’s DigitalBRIDGE Plus+ leaky feeder to establish a wireless coverage area of up to 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) per gateway node in underground environments. This coverage is easily expanded with the extension of the network.

Last spring, Georgia-based Strata and northern Idaho-headquartered producer Idaho Strategic brought together their collaborative work when the latter became the first-ever company to ring the New York Stock Exchange opening bell via video stream, virtually, from below the surface at Golden Chest.

The mine, located in the Murray Gold Belt (MGB) area of the world-class Coeur d’Alene Mining District north of the prolific Silver Valley, began underground operations from the Skookum shoot in 2016 and as it grows, it is also upping its gold production to a target of 20,000-25,000 ounces annually. Further expansion includes underground grows at the Klondike and Paymaster shoots.

“It was a long road to get to this point, and we couldn’t have done it without our entire team and community supporting the business,” Idaho Strategic CEO John Swallow commented last March.

“When we were notified of the opportunity to ring the opening bell, it was a unanimous decision to do it virtually so all of our employees and our greater community can be involved. We are excited for the opportunity and want to thank the folks at the NYSE for supporting us and helping us make this event a reality.”

Strata celebrated the achievement alongside their operational partner, as its DigitalBRIDGE network and StataConnect IoT Gateway made the groundbreaking telecast possible. 

Idaho Strategic Resources (IDR) was the first company to ever ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange virtually from an underground location.

About DigitalBRIDGE and Gateway

DigitalBRIDGE is a power-over-Ethernet (PoE) coaxial cable network for communications and high-speed Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity. It can be used stand-alone or be integrated into existing fiber infrastructure to expand into the working section or used to repair damaged fiber. 

“The primary function of DigitalBRIDGE is to create a high quality, high-speed digital platform for the inclusion of Ethernet end-point devices such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth access points, cameras, environmental monitoring systems, equipment programmable logic controllers and more,” StrataConnect General Manager Rob Albinger said.

“The simplicity of the coax cable system combined with the fact that it also carriers power, serves as a simple solution to overcome many of the traditional constraints experienced with typical wired communication networks underground.”

The StrataConnect IoT Gateway, developed by Strata for the most robust needs in underground connectivity, includes dual 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi radios, two 1-Gbps Ethernet ports; 802.3bt PoE-in & passive PoE out; a 1-Gbps SFP; RS485/Modbus; GNSS and GPIO capability and the ability to work on Strata’s proprietary 900 MHz wireless mesh.

“With the IoT Gateway supporting Bluetooth, we now offer an underground Bluetooth tracking system for personnel and vehicles,” explained Albinger. “Hard hat tags and vehicle tags communicate with the gateway nodes as they come into range, and the location data is streamed to the surface. It is another modern, but cost-effective option for replacing the traditional brass in/brass out system.”

Both DigitalBRIDGE and the StrataConnect IoT Gateway are available globally. 

About StrataConnect IoT Gateway

StrataConnect IoT Gateway supports open standard high-speed Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and LoRa for underground communication, tracking and IoT. It leverages existing infrastructures including fiber, Ethernet and DigitalBRIDGE Plus+ leaky feeder to establish a wireless coverage area of up to 2,000 meters/6,500 feet in underground environments. 

  • Dual 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi radios
  • Bluetooth
  • LoRa
  • 2x 1 Gbps Ethernet ports 
  • 802.3bt PoE-in & passive PoE out
  • 1 Gbps SFP
  • RS485/Modbus
  • GNSS
  • GPIO
  • 900 MHz wireless mesh

About Golden Chest (GC)

  • Location: 45 miles from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
  • Commodity: Gold
  • Type of mine: open-pit and underground
  • Date mining starts (by ISR): 2016
  • Ore shoots identified at site: Klondike, Golden Chest, Skookum; Joe Dandy; Paymaster; Katie-Dora

Related posts