Canadian Mining Journal

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GRINDING: ABB commissions six gearless mill drives at Cobre Panama



The grinding line supplied with ABB gearless drives at Cobre Panama. (Image: First Quantum Minerals)

PANAMA – Commercial production of copper now underway at large open pit Cobre Panama mine. Technology leader ABB has deployed six ABB gearless mill drives at the Cobre Panama copper mine, which is located 120 km west of Panama City.

The operator is Mineria Panama S.A. Following a period of ownership transition, First Quantum Minerals Ltd, a well-established and growing metals and mining company, increased its ownership to 90% in November 2017.

The six ABB gearless mill drives, which are the most powerful mill drive systems on the market for semi-autogenous (SAG), ball and autogenous mills, have been installed since late last year and are all now in continuous operation. Two 28 MW gearless mill drive systems (GMDS) are operating in the mine’s 12-metre SAG mills and four 16.5 MW GMDS are employed in 26 ball mills along with associated control systems.

“Gearless mill drives are the ‘workhorses’ for grinding operations which are at the heart of any mine. The six ABB GMDs at the world class Cobre Panama project are extremely robust. As the ore extraction pace indicates they are maximizing throughput,” said Rene Chacon, project manager at ABB for Cobre Panama. “They allow operators to react to changes in ore characteristics due to variable speed and, by optimizing the process, are more efficient in their use of grinding power.”

ABB has also installed its extended automation system, ABB Ability 800xA, which empowers mine operators to drive efficiency, by making more accurate and timely decisions. ABB Ability remote service centres, which provide state-of-the-art remote diagnostic services, maintenance reports, remote online monitoring of critical assets, and access to ABB’s product and maintenance experts are also installed.

ABB gearless mill drives such as those at Cobre Panama can operate under the most extreme environmental conditions like high altitudes or varied climates in remote locations. Due to their optimized design, they maximize reliability and availability of grinding mills.

Learn everything about ABB gearless mill drives and automation systems at www.ABB.com.