Complex mill upgrade completed and in operation serving all Vale mines in the Sudbury area

Leading power and automation technology group ABB has commissioned an upgrade to Vale’s existing Clarabelle dual pinion semi-autogenous (SAG) mill. The mill is used to reduce the size of the ore at the company’s nickel and copper mines in the Sudbury area, Ontario. The project was completed on-time and on-budget with an excellent safety record.

Located in Ontario about 400km north of Toronto, Vale’s Sudbury operations are primarily underground nickel sulphide mines with integrated mining, milling, smelting and refining operations. One of the characteristics of Clarabelle Mill is to accept nickel-copper ore from various sources and companies and to produce a nickel-copper concentrate and copper concentrate for further processing. The size of the ore is further reduced in semi-autogenous mills, rod mills and ball mills where all milling is done wet.

The project is the largest of several turnkey projects completed for Vale in Canada andwas first awarded in 2010. This complex project involved upgrading a SAG mill of 10m diameter and 11.2 revolutions per minute that had reached end-of-life, with a newer more robust system.

ABB replaced all of the electrical equipment including 5500KW motors, converter, transformer, motor
control centers, switchgear and mechanical auxiliary equipment such as the cooling system – pump
skid, chillers and fin-fan heat exchangers. The company also modified the existing foundation and air
clutch coupling to adapt it to the new motors. A number of SAG mill applications were implemented to
facilitate the operation and maintenance of the SAG mill.

ABB also built an additional structure next to the existing mill to house all of the new equipment and
integrate its system with the mill. Engineering and construction of the building extension included
excavation, foundation, civil, structural steel and architectural works as well as insulation, fire system,
lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

For more project information, visit the company’s website.

Image: ABB synchronous motor AMZ1250 driving the SAG mill pinion gear. Photo: courtesy of ABB.