ABB to automate 13-kilometer long conveyor system at Chuquicamata copper mine in Chile

Baden, Switzerland, May 4, 2016: Automation solution for transporting copper ore will operate at highest levels of availability and efficiency

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, 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 both 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 same freight as approximately 158 wagon trains.

A conveyor belt, similar to this, will be used at the Chiqui mine

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.

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 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 being developed 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.

“With mineral deposits becoming increasingly complex and more remote, our power and automation solutions can help customers become more efficient and optimize their operations enabling them to increase efficiency with less maintenance costs.” said Roger Bailey, Head of ABB’s Process Industries business. “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. This is 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 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.

ABB ( is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility, industry, and transport and infrastructure customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in roughly 100 countries and employs about 135,000 people.

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    • Juliane Lenzner
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      BU Process Industries
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