Power Management and Voltage Stability: Case of the Prominent Hill Mine

Mining and Its Impact on the Grid

Australia’s decade-long resource boom has increased mining industry value by more than 150% which significantly boosted domestic economy and raised local income as well as helped Australia to become a global leader in mining equipment and technology. However, large motors and drives used in mining can shift the power factor of the utility grid system away from the desired unity level, thereby decreasing the efficiency and security of the power system, not to mention potentially degrading equipment. Therefore, the influx of large inductive loads connected to the utility power system can wreak havoc on the electricity grid.

At large industrial sites, power quality – with voltage stability being a key criterion – is essential both for reliable operation of large 3-phase motors as well as avoidance of adverse impacts, such as brown-outs, at adjacent customers. Technically, the “quality” of power at a large industrial site is a function of how precisely reactive power is managed. Power factor, phase angle and VARS are all typical metrics, but VAR management is the paramount measure. By selecting an appropriate STATCOM system, such as AMSC’s D-VAR system, line voltage, power factor, and VAR (volt amperes reactive) power can be maintained within precise parameters. AMSC’s D-VAR system is capable of precise management of the VARs needed to regulate voltage and quickly drive voltages to acceptable levels.

Field Application of D-VAR Systems

AMSC has deployed D-VAR systems worldwide. In Australia, where mining, liquefied natural gas facilities and wind power parks are also seeing substantial growth, interest in D-VAR systems have grown, too. For instance, the OZ Minerals Prominent Hill mine, opened in South Australia in 2009, has become a showcase for high power quality by virtue of their installation of AMSC’s D-VAR system.

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