New overland conveyor for the Port of Newcastle

ABB Australia Pty Ltd
Saturday, 11 July, 2009

ABB is to provide a drive system for an overland coal conveyor at a new export terminal being built by Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG). The new terminal will enable an increase in coal exports from the Newcastle region of New South Wales and will be constructed at Newcastle Port, Kooragang Island. The project represents the largest single-stage development of a new coal terminal of this magnitude in the world.

The new coal conveyor application will also be notable as the new NCIG terminal is required to meet the export requirements of new coal projects over the next five to 10 years. The terminal will become the third in the Port of Newcastle and will feature rail, stockyard and shipping facilities. It will have a capacity of 30 Mt/year of coal throughput and is planned to start operations in 2010.

ABB’s conveyor drive solution, with 16.5 MW of installed power, consists of 16 variable speed drives with integrated transformers and 16 3.3 kV high-voltage process performance motors. The conveyor drive system is a packaged solution, with the variable speed drives to be housed within six air-conditioned and dust-resistant transportable rooms.

“We believe the keys to managing operations more productively are energy efficiency, equipment availability and reliability,” said Adrian Heaton, ABB regional sales manager. “Naturally, this was a focus for us when we put our solution forward to NCIG. ABB’s drive system has many advantages, such as one of the lowest parts count in medium-voltage drives offered by potential vendors.”

The drives use an advanced power semiconductor switching device known as an integrated gate commutated thyristor (IGCT), which results in a lower parts count. This provides a statistically lower risk of failure to some other medium-voltage drive semiconductor devices. ABB’s product reliability was verified by the many existing users of these drives in Australia.

“ABB’s high-efficiency motor was another important consideration, as every efficiency benefit achieved on 16.5 MW of power can provide a significant reduction in the environmental footprint,” said Heaton. “The flexible orientation of the top-mounted terminal box for the motors increased the ease of installation and reduced the need to carry multiple motors as spares. ABB’s motor also offered the lowest operational noise rating, which assists in meeting demanding Environmental Protection Authority operational noise level standards.”

NCIG also saw considerable advantages in utilising the master-follower standard onboard software. This software function of the drive enables accurate torque sharing between conveyor drums at the head of each conveyor without the need for encoder feedback.

“ABB’s packaged solution reduced the client’s risks in terms of equipment compatibility and will improve the conveyor system’s availability,” added Heaton. “All design aspects, such as the elimination of harmonics and voltage reflections that can damage motors and networks, are taken into consideration. Our engineers also optimised the design wherever possible — reducing the total number of components required as with the integrated transformers for the drives.”

The ACS 1000i variable speed drives are equipped with integrated input transformers, which reduce costs and simplify installation. Some of the installation savings include no cabling between transformer and drive, and no separate space for the transformer, an oil pit and cable ways. ABB’s interlocking doors, input isolator, DC bus grounding switch and output motor cable ground switch also offer substantial operational safety benefits.

With demurrage costs having increased recently, as ships queued up at ports waiting to be filled with bulk commodities, keeping equipment running 24/7 is critical to the bottom line. ABB — with its extensive support network and dedicated service technicians in each state — can offer service level agreements with guaranteed support times. This is important for infrastructure projects that address capacity issues associated with coal handling for regional coal exporters.

Partners in the project include BHP Billiton (through Hunter Valley Energy Coal), Centennial Coal, Donaldson Coal, Peabody Energy (through Excel Coal), Felix Resources and Whitehaven Coal.

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