Leading drive and automation specialist SEW-EURODRIVE has supplied a comprehensive drive package to a major Greenfield copper-mining project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The hot and humid conditions meant that cooling units had to be installed on the drives. Image credit: SEW-EURODRIVE

The hot and humid conditions meant that cooling units had to be installed on the drives. Image credit: SEW-EURODRIVE

The package comprised nine drives in total, of which the five main 500 kW ones weighed 12t each. The remaining four consisted of two 90kW drives on the decline sacrificial conveyor, and two 30kW drives on the tip-truck sacrificial conveyor.

Working through a local project house with which it has a longstanding relationship, SEW-EURODRIVE (Pty) Ltd. received the initial inquiry in August 2018. The final units were delivered to site in September 2019, followed by installation and commissioning, project sales representative, Thato MR Sookane, explains.

Due to the hot and humid conditions near Kolwezi, the drives had to be installed with thermal sensors to monitor the input and output bearing temperature, and the oil sump temperature. This is always to ensure optimal performance. Positioning sensors were also installed, in addition to cooling units due to the size of the drives, and sun covers to protect the surface of the drives from the worst of the harsh sunlight.

The fact that this is an underground copper mine means that decline conveyors are integral to removing the ore. SEW-EURODRIVE has collaborated with the project house since the beginning of the project, ensuring that all its specific requirements for this particular application were met and incorporated in the final design.

“The fact that this is a new mine means there is significant scope for our further involvement down the line,” says Sookane. Collaborating with project houses is a significant strategy for the OEM to secure long-term work in Africa, ably assisted by its own project and exports department. “The project house assists the client by providing a specific solution, and then approaches us to assist in turning its designs into a practical reality.”

SEW-EURODRIVE has gained significant experience in the copper-mining industry, having also supplied a 110kW Variable Speed Drive (VSD) for a slurry application at a Zambian copper mine last year. This represented one of the largest VSDs supplied by the company to date.

Commenting on the current state of the mining industry, Sookane stresses that there are definite green shoots in Africa. While mining is an important driver for the company in terms of growth and profitability, it has also diversified significantly into other sectors such as food and beverage, pulp and paper, sugar, and automotive.