Vocus and nbn satellite boosting productivity for Northern Minerals

Posted on February 20, 2020


Vocus has delivered an innovative way to help heavy rare earths business, Northern Minerals, transform its operations in remote northwestern Australia, by partnering with nbn co to deliver business nbn™ Satellite Service. 

Northern Minerals, the only heavy rare earths producer outside of China, is operating a 55-person pilot plant at its Browns Range project in northern Western Australian.

Due to its remote location, telecommunications coverage has been limited and unreliable, hampering the business’ need for high-speed data and voice connectivity.

The nearest town to the site is 160km away, which also adds the extra challenge of attracting and retaining a skilled workforce to operate the site.

"There are a lot of challenges with operating such a remote site, so it’s critical we partner with the right organisations who can provide the right solutions," said Northern Minerals Chief Operating Officer, Robin Jones.

Northern Minerals made the decision to work with Vocus and move its satellite service to nbn co because of Vocus’ strong presence in the resources industry and expertise connecting remote sites.

"Connectivity in the resources sector has become such an important part of how we operate systems, gather data and communicate across sites" Mr Jones said.

"It’s also critically important to providing an attractive work environment, lifestyle and ways to ensure the personal health and welfare of our employees. 

"That means providing reliable ways for them to stay in touch with family, friends and the rest of the world, as well as be entertained with things such as music and movies," he said.

Mr Jones said previously, connectivity to the site had been difficult to rely on, but now with business nbn Satellite Service from Vocus, there had been a dramatic improvement. 

 “As soon as the new connectivity came online, we saw an immediate increase in morale, with people being able to message, talk and Facetime with loved ones without the service dropping out.”

“We now have the ability to reliably use video comms and streaming services, and that makes a huge difference in such a remote location. The feedback from our team has been really positive,” he said.

 “It has been valuable working with a partner like Vocus, who really understands connecting remote areas, what’s involved in partnering with the nbn, and the kinds of challenges a business like ours can have,” he said.

Vocus Chief Executive, Enterprise & Government, Andrew Wildblood, said in regional and remote areas, the nbn roll out was a great catalyst for change. 

“It prompts businesses to look at how their network, connectivity and services are provided and consider what options are available in the market,” he said.

“Our experience as a network builder and operator in some of Australia’s most isolated places gives us great insight into the challenges involved in migrating networks. We know how important it is to take the time to understand network and site-specific requirements to ensure a smooth transition. 

“It’s something we have an enormous amount of expertise in, which means we can do all the heavy lifting for a customer to keep it simple and provide a brilliant experience,” he said.

Following the successful trial of business nbn Satellite Service by Vocus and Northern Minerals, a full commercial deployment at the Browns Range Dome site went into production in November 2019.

Business nbn Satellite Service is delivered via nbn’s Sky Muster II satellite. It has 58 spot beams providing high capacity and extensive coverage across regional and remote Australia. 

Related articles