ABB to Automate Copper Mine Conveyor

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 04:05 PM gHale


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

The belt system will deliver copper ore from the underground mine directly to the concentrator plant, 13 kilometers away from the mine site.

When complete, the conveyor system will be one of the world’s largest and most complex, covering steep gradients and long distances, with conveyors flights powered up to 20 MW and 55 MW in total. This is same amount of energy typically needed to power 41,000 homes. In the final stage the system will transport over 11,000 tons of material per hour.

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 end up 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 control system, 800xA combined with Mining Conveyor Control Program (MCCP).

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 ensures a longer lifespan of the solution. Another advantage are the considerable reduction in the drive system’s footprint and the amount of instrumentation required. Less parts increases the reliability and efficiency of the overall conveyor system by several percentage points.

Chuquicamata, one of the largest open pit copper mines and the second deepest open-pit mine in the world, is 1,650km north of Santiago, Chile. The mine, popularly known as ‘Chuqui,’ has been operating since 1910. The mine is owned and operated by by Codelco, the world’s leading copper producer.

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