WEG Technology in underground mine in Chile
WEG Technology in underground mine in Chile

To expand production at its copper mine, Chilean state-owned Codelco – El Teniente Division, had to replace old equipment with more powerful models. And to ensure an efficient and reliable replacement, the company relied on a partnership with WEG to supply two synchronous motors – SDA1600-3500HP-32P-D5-4160V-50Hz.

The equipment has already been delivered to the customer’s plant, near the city of Rancagua, south of Santiago. The new 3,500 HP motors will drive the two ball mills in one of the process lines of concentration of copper, replacing the 2,500 HP motors which have been in use for over 30 years. The measure was taken to ensure the production schedule of the El Teniente Division and allow a possible increase in production capacity of the mine.

Chile is the world’s largest supplier of copper and the El Teniente Division of Codelco produces annually more than 400,000 metric tons of fine copper in the form of fire refined (FR) ingots and copper cathodes. As a result of the processing of minerals, another 5,000 metric tons of molybdenum are obtained. Exploration of the copper mine began in 1904 and currently it has 2,400 km of underground galleries.

The supply of equipment to one of Codelco’s divisions is an important milestone for WEG in Chile. With this the company establishes a benchmark in large sized and synchronous motors to drive ball mills, a common application in many Chilean copper mining plants. “This supply allowed WEG to show its full capacity in designing and manufacturing special large sized motors besides the engineering and flexibility offered to the customer,” says engineer André Baviera, Sales Manager of WEG Chile.

Both motors are fully interchangeable. They were manufactured for Codelco ​​based on preliminary research and studies and considering the dimensions of the old equipment. In addition, technical aspects requested by users and maintenance personnel were taken into account, such as types of bearings, compatibility with existing couplings and degree of protection, all this without affecting the deadline for the customer, which was one of the most important requirements. “The project was carried out in record time and everything went perfectly, from engineering to delivery, commissioning and start-up”, comments Bavaria.

According to Project Supervisor for Codelco – El Teniente Division, Pablo A. Olguín V., the supply was strategic and the company is already considering new future partnerships. “Improved equipment directly affects the operational goals of the division. Tthese new motors were implemented so that, with minor improvements, it was possible to increase the treatment and flexibility of maintenance where they were installed (ball mills)”, he says. He also pointed out the technical qualities of the equipment, the advantages of price, flexibility in the proposals, complete technical assistance and direct attention according to customer needs. “The commercial area was also excellent, adapting to the specificity of the project and collaborating in all phases of the engineering,” says Olguín.