ABB commissions world’s most powerful gearless conveyor drive system

ABB and mining equipment company TAKRAF have developed a high-powered gearless conveyor drive system that will be installed at the Chuquicamata copper mine in Chile.

The underground project will extend the Chuquicamata operations for the next 40 years.

ABB provided the engineering design, gearless conveyor drives, electrical equipment, energy distribution and automation for the underground and overland conveyor system to the Chuquicamata mine, with testing and commissioning now complete.

Chuquicamata is the world’s largest open pit copper mine by excavated volume.

The conveyor drive system has three 11,000 tonne-per-hour conveyors that feature gearless conveyor drives and ABB’s synchronous five-megawatt torque motors.

It also features a motor shaft torque of approximately 900,000 newton-metres with the infrastructure operating without trucks, preventing the requirement for 120 large haul trucks to save 130 million litres of fuel per year.

The system delivers a decrease in active and reactive power consumption by using liquid-cooled MV voltage-source frequency convertors and synchronous motors.

TAKRAF project manager Marc Hollinger said it was the first transportation system that used an ST10000 steel cable belt for uphill tunnel conveyors.

“This mega project achieves a number of firsts, from the system’s installed drive power to the application of the ST10000 conveyor belt,” he said.

“This is a complex project of the highest magnitude demanding global cooperation between internal and external parties.”

ABB Australia head of industrial automation process industries Stuart Cowie said gearless conveyor drive technologies were likely to be adopted by Australia’s mining industry.

“We see significant opportunities for gearless conveyor drive technologies to be implemented in the Australian mining sector,” he said.

“Having designed control and drive equipment for more than 800 kilometers of belt conveyor systems around the world, we’ve seen that this innovative technology improves reliability, saves energy costs and reduces overall maintenance costs for mining operators.”

TAKRAF is a key supplier of equipment for open pit mining, materials handling and minerals processing.

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