ABB solutions take copper mining to new heights

2011-02-28 - ABB is delivering a range of power and automation 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 and 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.

By ABB Communications

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

ABB’s scope of supply includes three complete gearless mill drive (GMD) systems and mine-wide electrification and process control solutions.
    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.

    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.

    ABB has 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

    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.

    The control solution 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.

    Gearless mill drives are the heart of the mining process. They power the huge mills (cylindrical drums) that grind the ore into smaller pieces. Above, one of two 22.5 megawatt ABB gearless mill drive systems, each on a 38-foot autogenous grinding mill, at Boliden’s Aitik copper mine, Sweden. ABB is the world’s leading supplier of GMDs with more than 100 installed and ordered systems worldwide.

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      Mount Toromocho, Peru. Throughput at the mine’s three mills will be 117,000 tons of ore a day.

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