ABB has won orders totaling $140 million from Vale S.A. to supply automation and electrical equipment for the world’s largest iron ore project investment, which consists of the development of a mine and a processing plant.

Located in the Amazon region in northern Brazil, the Carajás Serra Sul S11D project, comprising the mine and processing plant, represents an $8 billion investment. The project is expected to be delivered in the second half of 2016 and Vale is expecting the issuance of the project’s implementation license in the first half of 2013.

The project will use shiftable conveyor belts instead of off-highway trucks to transport the iron ore from the mine to the processing plant. This is the first time a “truckless” solution will be used on a large scale at an iron ore mine. Truckless systems significantly reduce operating costs and produce lower carbon emissions. If the S11D mine were to be operated using trucks, it would need around 100 off-highway trucks and consume 77% more diesel per year.

For comparison, Vale’s Northern system, located in Carajás, produced 110 million metric tons (mt) in 2011; S11D will have an estimated nominal capacity of 90 million mt/y after the ramp up phase is concluded.

“This unprecedented project will use the latest ABB automation technologies to truly create the mine of the future, a benchmark in terms of productivity, safety and sustainability,” said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s Process Automation division. “The project will allow Vale to increase production by approximately 90 mt, while substantially reducing emissions and improving operational efficiency and process safety.”

ABB will provide the automation and electrification to transport the ore into the processing plant, and will completely automate all plant processes. The order includes a centralized 800xA control system for processing operations, so that personnel can be located away from the site, for improved safety and continued production. ABB’s solution also enables the automatic recovery and piling of iron ore by controlling and positioning equipment via GPS, and by using 3-D scanning for field screening.

ABB will also provide electrical infrastructure for the new processing plant, related energy distribution equipment for reliable and consistent power supply, and engineering and installation services. The delivery includes medium and low voltage motors for use with frequency converters, the primary power transmission stations, duplication of the telecom system for the railroad, and 37 secondary substations in self-contained E-Houses (electrical houses).

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