New ore hoisting system for Xstrata Copper in Australia

ABB, one of the leading power and automation technology groups, recently won an $11 million order to supply a complete ore hoisting solution for Xstrata Copper’s Ernest Henry Mining (EHM) copper-gold operation in north-west Queensland/Australia (Fig.). The tower-mounted hoist will transport ore for EHM’s new underground mine and play a key role in securing the long-term future of the operation by extending its life of mine by 12 years. The order was booked in the first quarter of 2011.


“ABB was selected for this project because of our unique position as a sole-supplier of complete mine hoist systems, and mining industry expertise, to provide a complete solution that will help this operation develop, thrive and profit well into the future,” said Axel Kuhr, country manager for ABB in Australia. “ABB has delivered more than 600 new mine hoist systems worldwide.” ABB will design, supply and commission all the electrical and mechanical equipment for a new vertical tower mounted mine ore hoist system. The hoist will run at a speed of 16 meters per second, allowing it to raise 1020 tons of ore per hour from a depth of 950 meters to the surface. The hoist will be driven by a 5000 kilowatt (kW) synchronous motor powered by ABB’s state-of-the-art ACS 6000 drive system to control torque and speed for energy efficient ore haulage. ABB’s system design also provides additional reactive power during operation, to minimize the new hoist’s impact on the surrounding power network.

ABB’s design and supply responsibilities include the bottom dump ore skips with inspection platforms, the rope deflection sheaves and a skip dumping system. The fully integrated automated hoisting system will be controlled by ABB’s System 800xA AC800M industrial controller; it will manage and control the entire mine hoisting system from the loading conveyors to the surface ore dump station. ABB’s proven maintenance and lifecycle support services were also important to the contract evaluation, as the reliable performance of the hoist is critical to the safety and financial success of the mining operation. Hoists are among the most significant pieces of equipment at an underground mine, and must operate with the highest level of reliability and safety, as any potential failure of the hoist can lead to catastrophic results.


Delivery is scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2012. Headquartered in Brisbane, Xstrata Copper is one of the commodity business units within the major global diversified mining group Xstrata plc. Xstrata Copper is the fourth largest global copper producer with attributable mined production in 2010 of over 913 000 tons of copper in cathodes and concentrates.

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