Showcasing its expertise in improving the electrical infrastructure of the mining industry, GE’s Power Conversion business will supply its ecomagination-qualified Quadramatic drive technology to Grupo Mexico to support the expansion of its Buenavista copper mining operation in the Mexican state of Sonora. The site is Latin America’s largest ball mill operation.
Grupo Mexico will use GE’s advanced synchronous motor technology to add 84 megawatts (MW) of power at six Buenavista ball mills. Quadramatic motors run at fixed speeds with minimum system losses to promote high efficiency, thus lowering the mine’s energy requirements. GE announced the new order with Minera Mexico—a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico—during MINExpo 2012 in Las Vegas, NV.
Previously known as the Cananea mine, the Buenavista site is one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world and produces more than 164,000 tons of copper annually. To meet the increasing global demand for copper, Grupo Mexico designed its expansion project to increase capacity without sacrificing efficiency.
“We selected GE’s Quadramatic motor technology to help us boost production and take advantage of record high copper prices driven by Asia’s strong infrastructure expansion activities,” says Manuel Tellez, corporate purchasing director, Grupo Mexico. “By supporting the long-term economic viability of the Buenavista mine, our expansion project will support the local economy at Cananea Sonora, Mexico.”
For the Buenavista expansion, GE will supply Grupo Mexico with:
- Six, 14-MW Quadramatic systems, each consisting of two low speed synchronous (LSS) motors and one Quadramatic drive.
- One LSS spare motor.
- Installation and commissioning services.
“GE’s unique and highly efficient Quadramatic system offers Grupo Mexico the reliability and simplicity required to help reduce Buenavista’s energy requirements and costs,” says Israel Astorga, grinding solutions leader for GE’s Power Conversion business.
GE’s equipment will be shipped and installed during the first three quarters of 2013. Commercial operation of the equipment will be phased in, beginning in the second quarter of 2013.
GE has been working with Grupo Mexico on the Buenavista expansion since April 2010. Previously, GE supplied the company with 11 LSS motors between 1982 and 1987. GE also has supplied wheel motors for Grupo Mexico’s locomotive applications and medium voltage switchgear.
Although the preferred method of meeting the demand for copper is exploration, this approach takes more time compared to expanding or improving the efficiency of existing mines. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the top 40 publicly traded global mining companies planned to increase capital spending by a combined US $140 billion in 2012—a 43% increase from 2011. With energy consumption and environmental concerns on the rise, Grupo Mexico and other mining companies are investing in new, more efficient technologies.
GE has a significant presence in the mining sector through GE Mining—a cross-business unit that takes the best technologies from across the company’s diverse portfolio and interconnects them to increase efficiency and results for customers in critical business sectors such as mining, metals, food and beverage, petrochemicals and unconventional fuels.
GE acquired Power Conversion (then known as Converteam) in September 2011. GE’s Power Conversion business—including GE Motors, which worked with Grupo Mexico on the Buenavista expansion project—applies the science and systems of power conversion to help drive the electric transformation of the world’s energy infrastructure. Designing and delivering advanced motor, drive and control technologies that evolve today’s industrial processes for a cleaner, more productive future, it serves specialized sectors such as energy, marine, industry and all related services.