ABB to automate Chuquicamata conveyor system

ABB has won an order from Tenova TAKRAF Chile to automate one of the world’s most powerful conveyor belt systems to be built at Codelco’s Chuquicamata mine in Chile
ABB to automate Chuquicamata conveyor system ABB to automate Chuquicamata conveyor system ABB to automate Chuquicamata conveyor system ABB to automate Chuquicamata conveyor system ABB to automate Chuquicamata conveyor system

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

Staff reporter

Chuquicamata, one of the largest open-pit copper mines and the second deepest open-pit mine in the world, is located 1,650km north of Santiago, Chile. The belt system will deliver copper ore from the underground mine directly to the concentrator plant, 13km away from the mine site.

When complete, the conveyor system will be one of the world’s largest and most complex, covering both steep gradients and long distances, with conveyors flights powered up to 20MW and 55MW in total. This is same amount of energy typically needed to power 41,000 homes. In the final stage the system will transport over 11,000t/h of material, the same freight as approximately 158 wagon trains.

The order consists of a complete power and automation solution which includes products such as 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 solution will fully integrate the belt’s power and automation through ABB’s flagship control system, 800xA, combined with Mining Conveyor Control Program (MCCP), thus ensuring optimum power quality and control across the entire system.

A new underground mine is being developed to access the ore body situated beneath the present open-pit mine. The new mine that is scheduled to begin operations in 2019 will significantly expand the capacity of the mine.

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

A key feature of the solution to be provided by ABB is the gearless conveyor drive system. The company stated that this is a state-of-the-art solution to meet the extremely high load requirements and the necessary power availability, which 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 needed and ensuring a longer lifespan of the solution. Another advantage is the considerable reduction in the drive system’s footprint and the amount of instrumentation required. Fewer parts increases the reliability and efficiency of the overall conveyor system by several percentage points.