ABB was recently awarded a $47 million contract from Codelco for the delivery of three gearless mill drive (GMD) systems, gas-insulated switchgears (GIS), E-house and power transformers for the Ministro Hales project located near Calama, Chile. The MH project brings the number of GMD orders for ABB to 100 units. Ministro Hales is a greenfield project, and for Codelco one of the most important investments made. At an elevation of 3,000 m above sea level, Calama is the gateway to the geological and archaeological wonders of Northern Chile’s high central Atacama Desert.

The GMD system portion consists of a 12 MW GMD for a 36-ft SAG mill and two 8.9 MW GMDs for two 22-ft ball mills. Leaving the factory at the end of 2011, the two GMDs will be the first ones assembled at ABB’s new GMD assembly factory in Basel, Switzerland. In addition to the GMD systems, ABB will deliver a 220 kV gas-insulated switchgear (GIS), three containerized E-rooms including 23 kV GIS and auxiliary services, as well as power transformers. Start-up of the plant is scheduled for 2013.

Acting as a variable speed drive, the GMD allows the mill to start smoothly, without any mechanical stress and fulfills the customer’s requirements for flexibility and adjustability of the process, enabling maximum control over the grinding process. ABB gearless mill drive systems feature numerous benefits when compared with conventional geared drive systems: superior reliability also with weak networks, increased process availability, extended life span and improved energy efficiency. The system brings advantages such as optimal space conditions, a minimum number of spare parts, mechanical and electrical components and consequently less maintenance requirements and an easy inclusion in all mill concepts.