Tag Archives: Chuquicamata

ABB, TAKRAF complete commissioning of Chuquicamata conveyor system

ABB, working with TAKRAF, has completed commissioning and testing of the world’s highest-powered gearless conveyor drive system at the Codelco-owned Chuquicamata copper mine in Chile.

ABB has provided engineering design, gearless conveyor drives (GCD), electrical equipment for power supply, energy distribution and automation of a new underground and overland conveyor system at one of the world’s largest copper mines.

Chuquicamata is currently transitioning from open-pit to underground mining, with the conveyor system, commissioned in just four months, part of a new underground project that is expected to extend operations for the next 40 years.

Project management and engineering for the full electrical, control and instrumentation scope was led by ABB in Germany, with long spells on site in northern Chile to work side-by-side with TAKRAF to equip the site’s new underground operation with a large conveying system that overcomes an altitude difference of 1,200 m and covers a distance of almost 13 km, ABB said.

The three principle 11,000 t/h conveyors feature GCDs equipped with large ABB AC synchronous motors with a rated power of 5 MW each, resulting in a motor shaft torque of about 900 kNm. With every line in constant use, high availability and low maintenance are essential. Designed with a minimum of transfer stations, just one was required underground, saving significant project cost, ABB said.

Based on continuous conveying technology, the infrastructure is completely truck-less, eliminating the need for 120 large haul trucks. This results in saving around 130 million litres/y of gasoline consumption, bringing the carbon emissions from 340,000 t/y down to 100,000 t/y. It is also the first transportation system in the world to employ premium steel cable belt technology, ST10000, for use on uphill tunnel conveyors, according to ABB.

ABB high power motors in position

“This mega project achieves a number of firsts, from the system’s installed drive power to the application of the ST10000 conveyor belt,” Marc Hollinger, TAKRAF Project Manager, said. “With this project, we firmly establish TAKRAF as one of the world’s only providers capable of delivering a mega project of this nature incorporating advanced technologies that push the boundaries of what has been done before. This is a complex project of the highest magnitude demanding global cooperation between internal and external parties.”

Ulf Richter, Global Product Manager for Belt Conveyor Systems at ABB, said: “This is a new milestone in underground applications for continuous mining. It is the highest drive power ever installed on a conveyor and uses a wide range of features for data acquisition, equipment assessment and process optimisation.

“In piloting this gearless drive application with TAKRAF, we have overcome tremendous technical and logistical challenges due to underground situations, elevation change and capacity requirements.”

ABB liquid-cooled MV voltage-source frequency converters, together with large synchronous motors, deliver a decrease in active and reactive power consumption at the operation. This is highly energy efficient, and without additional network filters, it says.

ABB’s Mining Conveyor Control Program ensures smooth belt operation and safe synchronisation between high power motors and high power hydraulic brakes, necessary for secure operation of steep uphill conveyors. The drive systems also work without mechanic backstops, ABB said.

A novel embedding concept, developed jointly by TAKRAF and ABB, enables straightforward installation and alignment of the GCD motors, saving installation time and longer deployment of maintenance teams. This was considered a major benefit compared with existing GCDs in cantilevered construction, ABB said. The concept also meant motors were 100% factory assembled and tested. They can also be mechanically disconnected from the drive pulley quickly so operations can continue if drive failure occurs. The total installed drive power for the entire system, including multiple feeder conveyors, totals 58 MW, of which there are 11 x 5 MW gearless synchronous motors.

ABB has also installed ABB Ability™ Ventilation Optimizer at Chuquicamata reducing carbon emissions and providing clean air to workers in line with the strict health, safety and environment requirements.

Epiroc to supply equipment, services for Codelco’s Chuquicamata underground mine

Epiroc is to deliver underground loaders, face drill rigs, rock bolting rigs and mine trucks to the Chuquicamata underground mine in northern Chile following an order from Codelco.

The large equipment order, which comes on top of the signing of a large contract for services at Codelco’s Andina mine and a large order for equipment used at its El Teniente mine, also includes several years of technical support and training. The order is valued at more than $20 million and was booked in April 2020.

Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, opened the Chuquicamata underground mine in 2019 as it looked to transition the world’s largest open-pit mine into a technologically advanced underground operation. The transformation will extend the mine life by 40 years, according to Codelco.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said the company was proud to be a key partner of Codelco “as it significantly extends the life of the Chuquicamata mine in the most productive, efficient and safe manner possible”.

Juan Mariscal, Sourcing Category Manager at Codelco, says: “Epiroc was chosen because it complied with all the technical, safety and performance requirements that Codelco demanded for the Chuquicamata Underground Mine project, while being the supplier that provided the best economic proposal for all its equipment as a whole.”

The order includes multiple units of the Scooptram ST1030 and ST18 loader, the Boomer S2 face drilling rig, the Boltec M bolting machine, and the Minetruck MT65 (pictured), the highest payload capacity underground truck in the world.

The machines will be equipped with 6th Sense solutions for automation, connectivity and information management, Epiroc says. The solutions include Epiroc’s Rig Control System, RCS, which makes the equipment ready for automation and remote control, and Epiroc’s Certiq system, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real-time.

Delivery of the equipment will take place later this year.

Codelco to suspend work on Chuqui Underground in response to COVID-19

Codelco says it will temporarily suspend some of its projects as part of its measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This will affect construction on the Chuquicamata Underground Mine project, which was previously expected to produce 320,000 t/y of fine copper by around 2026; the early works of Rajo Inca, a 70,000 t/y copper concentrate project; and the assembly works of Traspaso Andina, which will see a new transfer system installed at the Andina division.

The decision will strengthen the health security of the divisions since the number of workers on site will be reduced to a minimum, and air and land transfers will be also be scaled back. Codelco said many of its project workers come from different regions of the country, hence the reason to reduce transfers.

The suspension will be carried out gradually, starting March 25, and will last 15 days, Codelco said. In all affected projects, limited staff will be retained to safeguard the security of the facilities and equipment.

Codelco said the measures will have no impact on production of the respective divisions – which continue to operate with increased safeguards – but will see the number of workers circulating decrease.

It added that it will continue to evaluate the implementation of new measures that protect the health of all workers while also maintaining operational continuity.

Codelco El Teniente on its way to fully-automated mining solution, Sandvik says

Sandvik says it will deliver AutoMine® fleet solutions for underground trucks to Codelco’s El Teniente mine in Chile, continuing the copper miner’s “vision of creating the most advanced underground mines in the world”.

This AutoMine Fleet system is the first step in implementing a fully-automated mining solution using Sandvik trucks at El Teniente, the biggest underground copper mine in the world, Sandvik said.

“Codelco’s goal is to dramatically increase the productivity, safety and efficiency of its operations with AutoMine. Together with the existing OptiMine® system, the mine will become a world-class benchmark,” the mining equipment maker said.

This agreement follows the April announcement that Sandvik will deliver its AutoMine and OptiMine solutions to Codelco’s Chuquicamata mine as it converts the site from open pit to an underground mine. This development is part of Codelco’s 10-year strategic project to extend the life of its existing mines.

Rafael Guzman, Chief Engineer for Automation and Technology at El Teniente, said: “As a state-owned mining company, it is our responsibility to implement technology and solutions that ensure the safety of our people and the sustainability of our mines. Being a good corporate citizen is not negotiable. It is critical to our success.”

Sandvik and Codelco started their automation journeys together at El Teniente with the first-ever AutoMine Loading system installation, in 2004.

Patricio Apablaza, Vice President for Andean and South Cone, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said: “We are proud that Codelco continues to choose Sandvik as a strategic partner for its most innovative projects. Our technology will drive even safer, smarter and more productive mining for Codelco.”

The AutoMine product family allows customers to scale up automation at their own pace, according to Sandvik. The solution covers all aspects of automation, from remote and autonomous operation of a single piece of equipment to multi-machine control and full-fleet automation using automatic mission and traffic control capabilities. AutoMine installations have logged more than 2.5 million hours with zero lost time injuries.

OptiMine, meanwhile, is a suite of digital tools for analysing and optimising mining production and processes. It integrates all relevant data into one source, delivering both real-time and predictive insights to improve operations. “OptiMine is open and scalable, giving customers the flexibility to build at their own speed and incorporate other equipment, systems and networks,” Sandvik said.

Sandvik to automate and digitalise Codelco’s Chuquicamata underground mine

Sandvik says it will automate and digitalise Codelco’s underground copper operation at Chuquicamata, in Chile, creating one of the “most efficient and advanced underground mines in the world”.

Sandvik’s AutoMine® and OptiMine® solutions will allow Codelco to operate its new fleet of Sandvik LH621 loaders in fully autonomous mode, the mining equipment maker said.

Codelco is converting Chuquicamata from an open pit to underground mine as part of a 10-year strategic project to prolong its existing operations. It is due to start up in 2019.

Sandvik said: “The open system integrates manual operations and autonomous equipment into one powerful solution with AutoMine and OptiMine, enabling full transparency and real-time control over the parallel production and mine development activities.”

Andrés Avendaño, Operations Manager, Chuquicamata Underground, said: “Using our mines to full effect is part of our focus on sustainability and a key driver for our business. Automation and optimisation are critical to getting the most from our mines and keeping our people safe while we do it.”

Sandvik and Codelco started their automation journeys together with the first-ever AutoMine loading system installation at Codelco’s El Teniente copper mine, in 2004, Sandvik said.

Riku Pulli, Vice President, Automation, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said: “Codelco has been an important partner for us from the beginning. It’s fantastic to continue the partnership as our visions are well aligned. We look forward to working with Codelco to deliver even smarter, safer, more productive mining through digitalisation.”

Codelco is the number one copper producer in the world and is owned by the Chile government. It controls about 19% of the world’s copper reserves and is also the second producer of molybdenum worldwide, with 24,000 t produced in 2018.

Sandvik’s digital solutions, including AutoMine, OptiMine and “My Sandvik” are working in hundreds of mines around the world.

The AutoMine product family allows customers to scale up automation at their own pace, covering all aspects of automation, from remote and autonomous operation of a single piece of equipment to multi-machine control and full-fleet automation using automatic mission and traffic control capabilities. AutoMine installations have logged more than 2.5 million hours with zero lost time injuries, according to the company.

OptiMine, meanwhile, is a suite of digital tools for analysing and optimising mining production and processes. It integrates all relevant data into one source, delivering both real-time and predictive insights to improve operations, Sandvik said. OptiMine is open and scalable, giving customers the flexibility to build at their own speed and incorporate other equipment, systems and networks.

Codelco terminates SNC-Lavalin contract at Chuquicamata

Codelco has terminated its contract with SNC-Lavalin following a dispute related to a copper project the engineering firm was working on for the mining company.

SNC-Lavalin, which confirmed the news in a press statement, said Codelco had also initiated a drawdown on its approximately $42 million in bank guarantees.

News of a problem with one of SNC-Lavalin’s mining and metallurgy contracts came to light earlier this year, when the Canada-based company said an unfavourable cost reforecast related to a project would affect its 2018 financial results.

The two parties were unable to agree on a way forward for the project and, following further discussions, agreed to settle the dispute through an accelerated arbitration process. SNC-Lavalin said at the time that it expected to make significant recoveries in the future, but it would in the meantime continue to work on the project, which it expected to complete by the end of the June quarter.

Codelco said the $260 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the building of two new acid plants at the Chuquicamata smelter, in Chile, had been terminated due to a serious breach in the contract milestones.

“Among the non-compliances, are the delay in payments to its subcontractors, delays in the execution of the project and problems in the quality of the works, among others,” Codelco said in a news release translated from Spanish.

SNC-Lavalin, which earlier this year stopped bidding on all future mining EPC projects, said it was “appalled and surprised” by the decision taken by Codelco.

“We had reached an agreement in good faith on February 1, 2019, regarding the full completion of the project and a process for a fast track dispute resolution of previously announced unresolved issues through accelerated arbitration.”

The company said as it was nearing the end of the project completion, Codelco’s actions would put the completion and commissioning date further at risk.

“We believe that this termination is unwarranted and in breach of good faith agreements reached by the parties. It should be noted that Codelco has reached this decision after SNC-Lavalin openly informed Codelco of the status of the execution of the works, as requested by Codelco, which showed delays caused by site conditions that were the responsibility of Codelco, and the poor and unjustified acts by the main construction subcontractors,” SNC-Lavalin said.

SNC-Lavalin said it was now demobilising the job site and assessing the legal and financial impact of Codelco’s decision and preparing the dispute resolution actions to “recover as much as possible of the previously announced losses that are due directly to our client and to poor sub-contractor performance”.