ABB automation takes copper mining to new heights in Peru

  • March 10, 2011
  • ABB
  • News

March 10, 2011 - ABB is delivering a range of automation and power solutions for the Toromocho copper mine in Peru, one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits in the world. The solutions include a mine-wide electrical package integrated with a System 800xA process control system, and the largest, most powerful gearless mill drives in the world – all engineered to operate at the unprecedented altitude of 4,600 meters above sea level. Owned by Chinalco, China’s leading mining company, Toromocho is a previously undeveloped polymetallic deposit that is set to produce one million tons of copper concentrate a year when production starts in 2013. Situated in the ore-rich Morococha mining district of the western Andes, Toromocho contains an estimated 7.3 million tons of copper and 4.7 million tons of molybdenum, silver and other metals. The mine’s location - 4,600 meters above sea level in an area vulnerable to frequent seismic activity – places exceptional demands on the site’s electrical and process equipment. ABB is playing a principal role in the mine’s development, having won three contracts worth around $100 million in total from Chinalco and its engineering, procurement and construction contractor, Aker Solutions. Toromocho will boost the copper output of Peru, the world’s second largest copper producing nation, by 25 percent. Throughput at the mine’s three mills will be 117,000 tons of ore a day. ABB’s scope of supply includes three complete gearless mill drive (GMD) systems, as well as mine-wide electrification and process control solutions integrated on its flagship Extended Automation System 800xA. The three GMDs will be the largest such systems operating anywhere in the world and at the highest altitude. One system will be installed on a 40-foot SAG (semi-autogenous) mill with a power rating of 28 megawatts (MW); the other two will drive 28-foot ball mills with power ratings of 22 MW. GMDs are the heart of the mining process. They power the huge cylindrical drums that break and grind the ore into smaller pieces for further processing. The larger the mill, the more ore it can grind. ABB is constantly extending the engineering boundaries for GMDs by raising the power rating and enabling mill diameters and productivity to increase, while keeping energy consumption low and power quality at the required high levels. In addition to the GMDs, ABB was also awarded the contracts for mine-wide electrification and process control. The ability to provide equipment and solutions that are engineered and certified for operation at unprecedentedly high altitudes and able to withstand high levels of seismic activity was a key factor behind ABB’s selection. ABB recently won an order to supply a GMD system for the world’s first 42-foot SAG mill, and has designs in place for 44-foot SAG mills with power ratings of up to 35 MW The electrification solution includes 23 kilovolt (kV) gas insulated switchgear combined with ABB’s uniquely fast-acting Is-Limiter switching device. Is-Limiter protects the mine’s power distribution system by limiting high short-circuit currents and enabling the use of switchgear with a lower breaking capacity for a more economical solution. In addition, the scope includes 4.16 kV and 380 V switchgear and motor control centers together with medium and low voltage variable speed drives - all of which are housed in containerized, modular electrical rooms - as well as unit substations and distribution transformers. The entire production process at Toromocho will be controlled by ABB’s flagship process automation platform, Extended Automation System 800xA, and industry-leading ABB Minerals process control library for bulk mineral industries. System 800xA provides advanced operation of, and information from, all parts of the plant, enabling real-time visibility into the process and rapid response to potential problems. Its unique integrative capability provides access to, and visibility of, all plant systems, and enables Chinalco to easily integrate the site’s electrical equipment with the process control system. The solution is also equipped with a remote monitoring capability, enabling ABB to perform remote troubleshooting and maintenance. ABB’s global track-record as a single-source supplier of power and automation solutions to the mining industry, along with its comprehensive life cycle support capability in Peru, were also instrumental in Chinalco and Aker Solutions choosing ABB. ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 124,000 people.

Learn More

Did you enjoy this great article?

Check out our free e-newsletters to read more great articles..