ABB successfully commissions six gearless mill drives at Panama's newest mine

Photo: ABB

Technology leader ABB has deployed six ABB Gearless Mill Drives in Panama resulting in the country's first copper ore extraction which is announced this month and as ahead of schedule.

Mina de Cobre, which spans 13,600 hectares, is located 120 kilometers west of Panama City in the Donoso district, Colon province and 20 kilometers from the Caribbean Sea coast. The first project of its kind in Panama, Mina de Cobre has significant copper deposits that are expected to be explored over the next 30 to 40 years and is forecast to contribute up to 5 percent of Panama's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Panamanian company that holds the Cobre Panama concession, Mineria Panama S.A. (MPSA), was incorporated under the laws of the Republic of Panama in January 1997.  Following a period of ownership transition, First Quantum Minerals Ltd, a well-established and growing metals and mining company, increased its ownership of Mina de Cobre 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 company'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. The six ABB GMDs at the world class Panama Cobre project are extremely robust given demanding ambient conditions.  As the ore extraction pace indicates they are maximizing throughput," said Rene Chacon, 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."

ABB has also installed its extended automation system, ABB Ability™ System 800xA at Mina de Cobre, which empowers mine operators to drive efficiency, by making more accurate and timely decisions.  ABB Ability™ Remote Service Centers, 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 Mina de Cobre 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.