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Underground 3P Crusher powers on with cutting edge upgrades

Over the past year, the Electrical High Voltage and Crushing and Conveying teams have worked together to design and install important electrical improvements to increase the safety, efficiency and longevity of the 3P Crusher at our Mount Isa Copper Operations (MICO).

Positioned underground at Level 20, the 3P Crusher plays an important role in the ore handling process at MICO. Its main purpose is to reduce the size of the rock to more easily convey and transport the ore to the surface.

Crushers work by placing material between two parallel or tangent solid surfaces and forcing these together. This generates a great deal of energy with the material being pulverised into smaller pieces.

The 3P Crusher is based on Level 20 at our Mount Isa Copper Operations at Mount Isa Mines.
The Motor Protection Relay (MPR) and Power Quality Meter (PQM) are located in the Level 20 Substation.

The Electrical High Voltage and Crushing and Conveying teams worked hard to fit an upgraded Motor Protection Relay (MPR) and Power Quality Meter (PQM) to the 3P Crusher.

An MPR is an electronic device which is used to prevent damage to the crusher’s electrical motor, including damage caused by thermal overload, overcurrent, undercurrent, current unbalance and short circuiting.

The MPR protects the crusher, by identifying a potential fault and isolating the defective part of the motor from the operating part, preventing the motor from being damaged.

Located in the underground substation, this equipment is remotely connected to the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) network, which means it can send real-time data to the MICO Engineering team on the surface about the status of the crusher’s motor.

Crushing and conveying is an essential process used in a range of areas across our Queensland Metals operations.
Ore travelling on a conveyor belt after being condensed by the crusher.

Queensland Metals High Voltage Electrical Superintendent, Peter Ferguson, says this equipment provides the ability to monitor the health of the motor remotely, while also offering much faster fault interruption reaction, creating a safer work environment within the substation.

The MPR also receives data from the crusher motor and calculates the optimal settings for the motor in order to operate at maximum performance while minimising the potential for damage.

“With the MPR in place we can substantially lower the potential failure of the motor which ultimately reduces downtime and lost production and the substantial costs in repairs,” says Peter.

On the other hand, the PQM examines, interprets and stores the raw energy measurement data, such as voltage, energy use, cost of power and electric current from the crusher’s motor.

Left to right: Mike Nyakureba - Distribution Control Officer, Benjamin Russell - Electrician Matthew Newton - Electrician, Andrea Fakos - Electrical Engineer and Christian Taylor - Leading Hand Electrician.

The PQM uses high-speed sampling to capture all aspects of the crusher’s power, which is then stored and available for future analysis and reporting.

“This allows our engineering team to analyse the data to predict and prevent any potential power quality problems with the crusher before they happen, therefore reducing the likelihood of equipment malfunction, overheated circuits and system failure,” Peter says.

“The project to install PQMs across our underground high voltage network provides us with the ability to remotely monitor loading, current flow, voltage fluctuations and power availability.”

“It is a huge improvement in our ability to safely and efficiently control our network,” says Peter.