Zest WEG says it is supplying an extensive range of motors and variable speed drives (VSDs) for the second phase of the Kamoa-Kakula project, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Phase one of the project produced its first copper concentrate on May 25, 2021, and is expected to produce 200,000 t/y of copper in concentrate, according to Ivanhoe Mines, which owns 39.6% of the project, along with Zijin Mining Group (also 39.6%), Crystal River Global Ltd (0.8%) and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (20%).
Phase 2, now in the advanced stages of construction, will result in a doubling of production capacity. Future phased expansions could eventually see a mining rate set to process 19 Mt/y.
For the first phase of the project, Zest WEG was the key supplier for this electrical equipment.
According to Joe Martins, Mining Sector Specialist for Zest WEG, the mine’s scope of supply for the second phase is a repeat of the first. The first phase was supplied in 2020 with WEG medium voltage VSDs and WEG high voltage motors to drive the mine’s primary and secondary mills in the concentrator plant.
“We began to manufacture these long-lead time items in 2019, and delivered two medium voltage VSDs and two 3.3 kV motors for the mine’s 7,000 kW primary ball mill and its 7,000 kW secondary mill,” Martins said. “Our high voltage motors and medium voltage VSDs were also selected to drive the two 1,200 kW high pressure grinding rolls in the plant.”
WEG high voltage motors and automation solutions drive the underground ventilation fan applications, providing fresh air to the underground mine workings, he added.
All these large items are designed to specification, manufactured and tested in WEG’s Brazil facilities.
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the factory acceptance tests were conducted virtually, with special processes being developed to allow thorough inspection and comment online. The testing of the equipment for phase two – also conducted in a virtual environment – was completed in the September quarter of 2021.
Kamoa-Kakula is expected to become one of the world’s lowest greenhouse gas emitters per unit of copper produced, and Zest WEG’s energy efficient motors and automation solutions will contribute to this, the company said.
The first phase order included over 700 WEG low voltage IE3 premium efficiency motors, supplied to various local and international original equipment manufacturers, and installed throughout the concentrator plant. These motors drive equipment such as the rock breakers, conveyor drives, flotation cells, thickeners, slurry pumps, winches and other mechanical OEM packages.
Where processes within the plant required variable speed control, WEG low voltage VSDs were selected to provide the speed and control necessary for this equipment. Martins explains that, by selecting WEG low voltage VSDs in combination with WEG low voltage motors, Kamoa-Kakula will benefit from a 36-month warranty period.
“An important part of the energy efficiency strategy was for the plant to standardise on our IE3 premium efficiency motors – rated according to the IEC 60034-30 international standard,” he said. “With a class-leading energy efficiency rating, this means reduced carbon emissions and greatly reduced operational energy costs.”
Additionally, Zest WEG is supplying the Kamoa-Kakula project with a new 20 MVA, 33 kV/11 kV mobile substation, which is currently being manufactured in South Africa. The substation will provide stepped down power, and can be moved to supply power to different areas within Kamoa-Kakula’s mining footprint.
“Underpinning the performance of our equipment at the mine will be high levels of service and support from Panaco who is our Value Added Reseller in the DRC,” Martins said.