TAKRAF, an integrated solutions provider to the global mining, material handling and minerals processing industries, has recently been awarded the supply of the principal ore transportation system for the Chuquicamata Underground Mine Project by Chile’s state-owned copper mining company, CODELCO — the world’s leading copper producer.
Chuquicamata is one of the largest open-pit copper mines and the second-deepest open-pit mine in the world and is located 1,650km north of Santiago, Chile. The mine, popularly referred to as ‘Chuqui’, has been operating since 1910. The Underground Mine Project is being developed to access the ore body situated beneath the present open-pit mine and aims to extend mining operations for a further 40 years. The new mine is scheduled to be in operation in 2019.
TAKRAF’s innovative belt conveyor system will overcome a number of technical challenges including significant elevation change from the underground mine to the surface, and will comprise a variety of uphill tunnel conveyors that transport copper ore from underground storage bins. The system will also include a number of feeder conveyors as well as an overland conveyor feeding into the existing conveying system.
The conveyor system will be installed with advanced gearless drive technology with the uphill tunnel conveyors boasting the highest drive power ever to be installed on a belt conveyor. In fact, total installed drive power for the entire system will be around 55MW. Gearless drives eliminate the need for a gearbox, hereby significantly reducing the number of main wear parts. This results in increased efficiency and reliability, as well as less maintenance being required. Further advantages include a considerable reduction in the drive system’s footprint and the amount of instrumentation required.
Safety, as well as the ease and speed of maintenance are critical success factors for a project of this nature. TAKRAF’s innovative chute maintenance solution will allow for all regular chute maintenance to be conducted from outside the chute, with no person having to enter the chute. This is a particularly important safety point, especially in underground environments.
Another significant achievement will be the installation of a newly developed steel cord belt, ST10000, on the uphill tunnel conveyors. This will mark the world’s very first conveyor system to employ this premier steel cord belt technology. The conveyor system will boast a design capacity of more than 10,000tph (tonnes per hour) and, in order to manage and dissipate intense heat generated by the system, a complex cooling system has been included in the project scope, which requires that no heat be dissipated to the underground environment. TAKRAF’s total scope includes a variety of engineering disciplines as well as various components’ supply and extensive site assistance.