Haines Survey | BGAN HNS


BGAN is the only mobile satellite service to offer broadband data with simultaneous voice, through a single, truly portable device on a global basis. It is also the first service to offer guaranteed data rates on demand – up to 256kbps – for live video and video conferencing.

Haines Surveys gives the global mining industry a kind of ‘X-ray vision’ – seeing through the rock to find valuable mineral deposits.

Based in Perth, Western Australia, the company uses gravimeters to gather survey data based on gravity. The readings change according to the type of rock beneath the surface, so Haines’ data provides strong clues as to the minerals present in the ground.

The company’s field technicians travel by helicopter or truck to the remotest parts of Australia, taking gravimeter readings and recording the exact location of each one using GPS satellite-tracking antennas.

The company’s co-founder and director, Richard Haines, was already using satcoms for remote voice calls when his service provider, AST Networks, recommended he tried the BGAN Hughes Network Systems (HNS) 9201 terminal.

The introduction of Inmarsat BGAN has greatly speeded up the delivery and analysis of gravity data. In the past, Haines always needed to send geophysicists to remote locations to gather the data.

Once this was done, they usually had to travel many miles to find an internet connection to get their readings back to the office. Now, after basic training, locally recruited field technicians can collect the data and email it every day via BGAN from the remotest locations. This means the Haines geophysicists can remain at head office to analyse the data when it comes in, and send frequent updates to Haines’ mining clients.

How BGAN is used

Several of Haines’ 22 field technicians have been using BGAN for the past 12 months to send ASCII files back to the office via email. Working in pairs, they move methodically across a pre-defined area, taking readings using gravimeters and GPS antennas. At the end of each day, they spend about five minutes transmitting the data they have collected via BGAN, sending as much as 3MB in one go.

This data is analysed in the office, where it is transformed into colour-coded three-dimensional maps depicting the geological strata of each location. The colours denote the differing densities of the hidden rock.

Geophysicists in the office send detailed daily instructions by email to the field technicians’ BGAN terminal. These direct them to the areas most likely to contain mineral deposits, and ensure they make the best use of their time in the field. Armed with the analysed data, the mining companies have a good idea of where to start exploratory drilling.

Key benefits

  • Immediate transfer of data from the field to the lab – no more waiting days for field technicians to find a hotel and establish a slow dial-up connection. Travel costs are substantially reduced.
  • Field technicians experienced in the local terrain are quickly trained up to record and send the necessary data. This enables geophysicists to remain in the office, where their equipment and reference sources are at hand and their valuable skills can be fully utilised.
  • Haines can supply data to more than one mining company from the readings taken (where one company has an interest in mining for gold, another may be interested in uranium), subject to approval by both Haines’ customers.
  • For mining companies, BGAN’s portability and speed make the best use of the limited time they are permitted for exploration and extraction.

About HNS

Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HNS), is the world’s leading provider of broadband satellite network solutions for businesses and consumers. Headquartered outside Washington, D.C. in Germantown, Maryland, US, HNS maintains sales and support offices worldwide and operates manufacturing facilities in Gaithersburg, Maryland. HNS is certified to the ISO-9001 standard.

BGAN has revolutionised the way we do business. Geophysicists can remain in the office providing essential data analysis enabling mining companies to act fast to exploit new deposits.

Gravitational surveying is a game of logistics, which is where BGAN proves vital. It means no more wasted time travelling out of our way to send data back to the office.

The new BGAN facility has allowed larger raw gravity data files to be sent to our Perth or Adelaide offices on a daily basis. Files of up to 3MB are now regularly sent to the office, allowing final processing of the data to be completed that evening.

BGAN has removed the need for reprocessing of the gravity data, resulting in a cost-saving on average of A$5,000 per project.

Richard Haines, Co-founder and Director, Haines Surveys

Haines wanted to get data back more quickly from the survey site in the bush to the central office for processing. We demonstrated BGAN in our office in Perth and soon afterwards the survey crew began using it in the bush, without needing any formal training. We had loaned them the unit, but they decided not to hand it back and said they wanted more BGAN terminals!

Richard Coston, Managing Director, AST Networks Australia

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