Zest WEG is supplying an extensive range of motors and variable speed drives (VSDs) for the second phase of the Kamoa-Kakula project, one of the world’s most exciting new copper developments, located on the Central African Copperbelt in the DRC.
Phase one produced its first copper concentrate on 25 May 2021, and is expected to produce 200,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate annually. Phase 2, now in the advanced stages of construction, will result in a doubling of production capacity. Future phased expansions will eventually see a mining rate set to process 19 million tonnes per annum.
For the first phase of the project, Zest WEG was also the key supplier for this electrical equipment. According to Joe Martins, mining sector specialist for Zest WEG, the mine’s scope of supply for the second phase is a repeat of the first. The first phase was supplied in 2020 with WEG medium voltage VSDs and WEG high voltage motors to drive the mine’s primary and secondary mills in the concentrator plant.
“We began to manufacture these long lead time items in 2019, and delivered two medium voltage VSDs and two 3,3 kV motors for the mine’s 7,000 kW primary ball mill and its 7,000 kW secondary mill,” says Martins. “Our high voltage motors and medium voltage VSDs were also selected to drive the two 1,200 kW high pressure grinding rolls (HPGRs) in the plant.”
WEG high voltage motors and automation solutions drive the underground ventilation fan applications, providing fresh air to the underground mine workings, he says.
All these large items are designed to specification, manufactured and tested in WEG’s Brazil facilities. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the factory acceptance tests were conducted virtually, with special processes being developed to allow thorough inspection and comment online. The testing of the equipment for phase two – also conducted in a virtual environment – was completed in the third quarter of 2021.
Significantly, Kamoa-Kakula will be among the world's lowest greenhouse gas emitters per unit of copper produced, and Zest WEG’s energy efficient motors and automation solutions will contribute to this.
The first phase order included over 700 WEG low voltage IE3 premium efficiency motors, supplied to various local and international original equipment manufacturers, and installed throughout the concentrator plant. These motors drive equipment such as the rock breakers, conveyor drives, flotation cells, thickeners, slurry pumps, winches and other mechanical OEM packages.
Where processes within the plant required variable speed control, WEG low voltage VSDs were selected to provide the speed and control necessary for this equipment. Martins explains that by selecting WEG low voltage VSDs in combination with WEG low voltage motors, Kamoa-Kakula will benefit from a 36 month warranty period.
“An important part of the energy efficiency strategy was for the plant to standardise on our IE3 premium efficiency motors – rated according to the IEC 60034-30 international standard,” he says. “With a class leading energy efficiency rating, this means reduced carbon emissions and greatly reduces operational energy costs.”
Additionally, Zest WEG is supplying the Kamoa-Kakula Project with a new 20 MVA, 33kV/11kV mobile substation, which is currently being manufactured in South Africa. The substation will provide stepped down power, and can be moved to supply power to different areas within Kamoa-Kakula’s mining footprint.
“Underpinning the performance of our equipment at the mine will be high levels of service and support from Panaco who is our Value Added Reseller (VAR) in the DRC,” says Martins.
Commenting on VARs, Martins says that those appointed by Zest WEG in this role are far more than simply distributors. “Panaco, as our VAR in the DRC, is a 100% locally owned business specifically chosen to promote and support the wide range of Zest WEG’s offering in the region. Its team includes technical specialists and the company’s operating methodologies and culture are closely aligned with ours, and will aid in supporting our current installed base, client network and growth expectations in the region.”