Overview: Headquartered in Saskatchewan, Canada, Cameco is one of the world's largest uranium producers. Otherwise known as the Canadian Mining and Energy Corporation, Cameco was formed in 1988 by the merger and privatization of two crown corporations.
Cameco’s operations account for about 16% of the world's uranium production from its mines in Canada and the United States. The corporation produces 25 million pounds of uranium a year with 18 million pounds coming from the Canadian facility. Most of the mining takes place in Canada but there are also facilities in Smith Ranch (Wyoming), Crow Butte, Nebraska and Kazakhstan.
Situation: Mining at the main Cameco facility takes place underground near the Athabasca Basin which hosts the largest high-grade uranium mines and deposits. Because the water is roughly 65 feet (20 meters) from the mining location, it is critical that the surrounding water be frozen. If the water is not frozen, then it will flood the mining zone putting the workers and uranium at risk. To control the temperature of the water, Cameco uses freeze compressors that are controlled by electric motors.
The electric motors are a critical element in keeping the operation running smoothly. Currently, Cameco is running 650 HP, 5000 volt motors. Nearly two years ago, Cameco started experiencing maintenance issues with the motors that were powering the compressors. The end bearings were wearing out and the compressors stopped working. While backup motors were available, Cameco began to look for other motor options that would be more reliable and last for a longer period of time.
Solution: After consulting with Precision Electro Mechanical (WEG exclusive distributor in Canada), Cameco made the decision to replace the failing motors and any future motors with WEG electric motors. This decision was based on the level of quality and the reliability of the motors. “WEG’s electric motors greatly surpass the level of quality of other motors on the market,” states Dwight Radloff, Electrician Foreman at Cameco.
Compressor Duty Motor
These high quality motors are designed to meet the high torque requirements of air compressor loads. Special electrical and mechanical features ensure reliable service and long motor life. Below are the standard features for WEG Compressor Duty motors.
· Single-phase, II pole, 60Hz
· Manual overload protection
· Start capacitor
· Squirrel cage rotor
· Open Drip Proof (ODP)
· Fan cooled (internally)
· Ball bearings
· NEMA dimensions
· High starting torque
In addition to the Compressor Duty motors, Cameco is also utilizing several other WEG motors, including 700 hp, 460 volt HGF motors for pumping. WEG’s electric low voltage H line features simple and compact construction and is manufactured in finned cast iron frames for severe duty applications. Internal and external fans are also provided resulting in an inside temperature balance which helps to extend the winding lifetime of the motor and improves performance.
Results: The Compressor Duty WEG electric motor has been operating for over 18 months without any mechanical issues. In the future, Cameco plans to replace any failed motors made by other manufacturers with WEG products. “We expect these motors to last twice as long as those which we were previously using to power our compressors,” states Radloff. “WEG’s quality control is far above the rest.”