Copper ore conveyor system by ABB

ABB is to supply one of the world’s most powerful and complex automated conveyor belt systems for the Chuquicamata Copper Mine in Chile. The belt system will operate at highest levels of availability and efficiency, to deliver copper ore from the underground mine directly to the concentrator plant, which is located 13 km from the mine site.

The final conveyor system will be one of the world’s largest, covering both steep gradients and long distances, with conveyor flights using up to 20 MW of power, and 55 MW used in the total system – the amount of energy typically needed to power 41,000 homes. In the final stage the system will transport over 11,000 tons of material per hour, the same amount that would fill around 158 freight wagon trains.

Conveyor+belt_lores

A conveyor belt similar to this will be used at the Chiqui mine

Major capacity expansion

The order won by ABB is for a complete power and automation solution: the project includes gearless drives, motors, instrumentation and power product supply. The equipment will be custom engineered to on-site requirements, in order to optimally power, control, measure and actuate the conveyor system. The belt power and automation will be fully integrated through the flagship ABB control system, 800xA, combined with the ABB Mining Conveyor Control Program, to ensure optimum power quality and control across the entire system.

Chuquicamata is one of the largest open pit copper mines, and the second deepest open-pit mine in the world: it is located 1,650km north of Santiago, Chile. Popularly known as ‘Chuqui’, the mine has been operating since 1910. It is owned and operated by Codelco, the world’s leading copper producer. A new underground mine is being developed at Chuquicamata to access the ore body situated beneath the present open pit mine. The new mine is scheduled to begin operations in 2019, and will significantly expand the output from the area.

“With mineral deposits becoming increasingly complex and more remote, our power and automation solutions can help customers become more efficient and optimize their operations enabling them to increase efficiency with less maintenance costs” said Roger Bailey, Head of the ABB Process Industries business. “We are delighted to support Codelco in their aim to be the leading copper supplier across the world.”

The gearless drive is key

A key feature of the solution to be provided by ABB is the gearless conveyor drive system. This is a state of the art solution that will meet the extremely high load requirements and the necessary power availability at the site: this would not have been achievable with a conventional drive solution.

This gearless conveyor drive system eliminates the gearbox from the motor, thus significantly reducing the number of main wear parts, resulting in less maintenance and ensuring a longer lifespan of the system. Another advantage is a considerable reduction in the drive system footprint and the amount of instrumentation required.

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