ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, announced that it recently won a five-year contract from Minera Escondida Ltda (operated by BHP Billiton) to manage maintenance and increase productivity at the world’s largest copper mine.

Located in the northern part of Chile, the Escondida mine produced 1.2 million metric tons of fine copper in 2008, close to 8% of the world’s total copper production. BHP Billiton is the operator and majority owner of the mine; other joint venture owners are Rio Tinto, JECO and International Finance Corp.

ABB will provide performance-based maintenance services for the five crushing plants at the mine, and the 25km conveying system that then transports the copper to the processing plants. These services include management of all maintenance activities, as well as continuous improvement programmes to increase overall process efficiency and improve the reliability and availability of all production equipment. The agreement involves 87 people and started on 1 May 2009.

“This contract highlights how ABB’s innovative approach to performance-based services, combined with our industry expertise and commitment to helping our customers achieve their targets, provides a win-win situation for all parties,” said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s process automation division.

ABB has more than 150 similar strategic full service agreements with customers in the paper, mining, chemicals and oil and gas industries globally. ABB best practices applied to maintenance operations improves the performance and reliability of production assets, increasing plant efficiency and reducing costs so customers can focus on their business, adding new value to their bottom line.

ABB’s process automation division delivers integrated solutions for control, plant optimisation and industry-specific application knowledge and services to help process industry customers worldwide meet their critical business needs in the areas of operational profitability, capital productivity, risk management and global responsibility. These industries include oil and gas, power, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, metals, minerals, marine and turbocharging.