Technology company ABB announced the deployment of six ABB Gearless Mill Drives in Panama, resulting in the country’s first copper ore extraction. The process is taking place later this month at First Quantum Minerals’ (TSX:FM) Mina de Cobre.
The mill drives, which according to ABB are the most powerful systems on the market for semi-autogenous, ball and autogenous mills, have been installed since late last year and are all now in continuous operation.
ABB also installed an extended automation system and a remote service Centre at Mina de Cobre
Two 28 MW gearless mill drive systems are operating at First Quantum’s 40-foot SAG mills and four 16.5 MW GMDS are employed in 26 football mills along with associated control systems.
“Gearless mill drives are the ‘workhorses’ for grinding operations which are at the heart of any mine,” said Rene Chacón, project manager at ABB for Mina de Cobre. “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.”
According to Chacón, the mill drives can operate under the most extreme environmental conditions, such as the Panamanian humid heat, as well as in high altitudes or remote locations.
Mina de Cobre spans 13,600 hectares and is located 120 kilometers west of Panama City in the Colón province.
The project has copper deposits that are expected to be explored over the next 30 to 40 years and is forecast to contribute up to 5% of the country’s GDP.