Massive motors installed in Panama

Marthinusen & Coutts, a division of ACTOM, recently executed the sub-assembly of six gearless mill drives for Minera Panamá’s remotely situated Cobre Panamá project in record time.

Cobre 001
The Marthinusen & Coutts team brazing the coil to the coil stator connections.

Image credit: Marthinusen & Coutts

As a result, the company handed over the machine to the mechanical teams for professional assembly well ahead of schedule.

Minera Panamá, the Panamanian subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals, is currently developing the Cobre Panamá project, located in Colón province. The mine life has been estimated at more than 30 years and will produce around 300 000t/y copper, 100 000oz/y gold and 2 500t/y molybdenum.

Of the six ABB gearless mill drives being installed at Cobre Panamá, four will power ball mills and the other two will drive SAG mills. Importantly, these massive machines are among the largest ever installed in the world and were transported in quartered sections to site for assembly in-situ.

The sheer size of the machines, with an inside diameter of 14m, presented challenges of its own with each segment weighing approximately 80t. Work was done on four different positions on the machines simultaneously: 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock and 12 o’clock.

Commenting on the role that Marthinusen & Coutts plays in this project, divisional CEO Richard Botton says that a team of six highly competent and skilled technicians is responsible for the completion of the project within extremely tight time schedules. Work on the machines was performed back-to-back and this was accomplished using induction brazing equipment, and a bar wound winding with separate upper and lower stator bars, as opposed to set diamond lap-wound, formed type coils.

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The Marthinusen & Coutts team back from left are: Wesley Ludeman (assistant winder); Chico Bernades (field service technician); Shepard Chigmwa (senior winder); and Keith van den Heever (assistant winder). Front from left: Rico Coertze (assistant winder) and Wynand Willemse (senior field service technician).

Image credit: Marthinusen & Coutts

“The depth of experience and technical competence within our team proved vital to the successful completion of the work, especially given the various challenges encountered daily,” he says. “The average execution for each machine took just 28 days.”

Another major challenge that the team had to contend with was the adverse weather conditions at the location. This region receives between five and seven metres of rain a year, with ambient temperatures often exceeding 35°C and humidity levels above 80% daily.

Botton says that working closely with the OEM – ABB – on this project, was also vital to its success. He points out that it is not unusual for Marthinusen & Coutts to partner with OEMs on projects such as this.


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