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Peruvian mine claims world's biggest gearless conveyor drive

29 November 2015

Siemens has supplied the world's biggest gearless conveyor drive system to the Cuajone Mine in Peru which is operated by the Mexican mining company, Southern Copper Corporation.

The project team from Siemens and ThyssenKrupp in front of the stator of the largest gearless conveyor motor in the world
The project team from Siemens and ThyssenKrupp in front of the stator of the largest gearless conveyor motor in the world

The modernisation project will entail the installation of a new gyratory crushing and conveyor system by 2016. The belt conveyor will replace a railway system currently used to transport the ore from the mine to the processing plant. The Integrated Drive System (IDS) used to power the world's highest-powered gearless conveyor system with an output totalling 12,000kW is being supplied by Siemens.

Not only does the gearless drive enable efficiency to be increased by three percent, it also cuts down the necessary maintenance work and associated costs, as wearing parts such as couplings, motor bearings and gearboxes are no longer required.

In mid-2014, Siemens was chosen by ThyssenKrupp to supply the electrical package to the Cuajone Mine in Peru with a contract valued in the double-digit million Euro range. Previously, the ore was transported out of the mine for further processing by train over a distance of more than six kilometres to the processing plant.

The existing railway is now being replaced by an efficient conveyor belt system and a gyratory crusher, for which Siemens is providing the automation system, the power distribution equipment, and the drive system.

Alongside conventional drives, Siemens is deploying primarily Integrated Drive Systems (IDS) with gearless drives which offer a high level of availability by dispensing with many of the wear-prone components such as gearboxes, couplings and motor bearings.

Gearless drives also enable the use of a continuous conveyor belt, eliminating the need for transfer stations and so reducing susceptibility to faults, cutting out the need for high-intensity maintenance and driving down costs.

The conveyor belt system comprises three individual sections, which are equipped with a total of five Integrated Drive Systems. For the largest of the belt sections, Siemens is supplying two gearless drive systems with an output of 6,000kW each, comprising a low speed synchronous motor and a Sinamics SL150 cycloconverter. SL150 cycloconverters with thyristor stacks are best suited to controlling the speed of induction and synchronous motors run at high torque and low stator frequencies. They are implemented as three-phase thyristor bridges in a 6- or 12-pulse connection, and as they use a relatively low number of power semiconductors they are both efficient and reliable.

The two smaller feed and discharge belts will be driven by two 500kW low-voltage motors using Sinamics S150 inverters with regenerative feedback capability and one 1,200kW medium-voltage motor. The converters and motors as well as the gearboxes and couplings for these drives were all supplied by Siemens. The automation components as well as the drive and power distribution technology are provided in modular electrical rooms dubbed 'E-houses'.

Siemens is no stranger to the Cuajone Mine facility, having supplied the drive for a high-pressure grinding roll system back in 2013. Southern Copper Corporation operates mines and metal processing factories in Peru, US and Mexico, including the Toquepala and the Cuajone copper mines in Southern Peru. The company mines and produces copper, molybdenum, selenium, gold and silver and also invests in the exploration and harnessing of mineral deposits in Peru, Mexico and Chile. 

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