ABB has entered into a strategic service partnership with Sierra Gorda SCM to provide holistic services for its copper mine in the Atacama desert in Chile. The service agreement covers a customized service approach for all of ABB’s electrical and automation deliveries from 2011 to 2014 that were awarded as part of an earlier contract. The major equipment supplied by ABB includes three gearless mill drives and four high-pressure grinding rolls. Furthermore, ABB’s scope of supply included gas-insulated switchgears, low-voltage and medium-voltage control centers, medium- and low-voltage drives, a distributed control system, and a range of automation equipment. ABB has also supplied 28 E-houses: pre-fabricated, walk-in, modular, outdoor enclosures designed to house a range of electrical and automation equipment.

The services offered include advice on startup, operations and maintenance, as well as getting the most out of the advanced features of its control system. These features include the ability to monitor and optimize the performance of the electrical equipment, remotely diagnose any problems that arise and optimize Sierra Gorda’s maintenance schedules to minimize the possibility of breakdowns.

A key area of the service agreement is asset optimization capabilities that improve the availability, performance and lifetime of equipment by using condition monitoring, advanced diagnostic data, and predictive intelligence to plan maintenance activities and detect equipment problems before they occur. High uptime and reliability is an important consideration, especially given the extreme hostility and remoteness of the Atacama desert.

ABB will also offer the Sierra Gorda’s staff professional training courses to help them run the mine as efficiently and safely as possible. This provision of skills development was an important criterion in the award of the contract.

“A highly tailored service concept and expert support means we can count on ABB as our strategic service partner,” said Joseph Tis, vice president development for Sierra Gorda SCM. “We are confident that ABB’s team expertise in mining processes and equipment will help us to improve our production performance in the coming years.”

The Sierra Gorda copper mine is located in the Antofagasta region in the far north of Chile, at an altitude of 1,626 m. The estimated output in the first phase of the development is 120,000 metric tons (mt) of fine copper and 21,000 mt of molybdenum a year. Excavation is due to begin in 2014. The Sierra Gorda project is a joint venture between KGHM International, Sumitomo Metal Mining and Sumitomo Corp.