The Titania A/S mine located in Sokndal, Norway is the world’s largest open cast ilmenite mine, producing nearly 850,000 metric tons per year of titanium dioxide (TiO2), a powder used in the whitening of products from paint to toothpaste.
The mine’s maintenance team was struggling with repeated breakdowns of the conveyor’s existing mechanical drive system, costing the mine up to 1 million Norwegian Kroner ($120,000) in lost production each time. Breakdowns peaked during the harsh winter of 2010 to 2011.
“The capacity was not good enough, and the reliability was not good enough,” says Knut Petter Netland, Titania’s Mine Manager. “Several times a year we had a breakdown and the repair time was too long. We had to close the milling operation before we could start the mining operation again. It was an unacceptable situation.”
Titania turned to original equipment manufacturer Kellve Sweden AB for help. After dismissing an electrical option due to cost, the Kellve team suggested a mechanical solution, ABB’s Dodge controlled start transmission (CST) drive system.
The CST is a 2 in 1 gearbox that combines a planetary gear reducer with an integral wet clutch system. When coupled to an AC induction motor, the CST converts the motors high-speed, low-torque input to a low-speed, high-torque output, delivering smooth control and enough power to drive the largest and longest conveyors.
Although there are over 3,000 CST installations around the world, this would be Europe’s first. Needing to be convinced, Bent Haaland, Titania’s Project Leader contacted two mines in the USA to gauge their experiences.
“The feedback we got from them was very positive,” says Haaland. “They didn’t have any incidents or plant stops. So they really reassured us with claims of 98 percent availability and extremely low overall maintenance costs.”
Installed in August of 2014, the CST’s have delivered the reliability that the Titania mining team was looking for. While it may have been a leap of faith choosing technology they hadn’t heard of before, in the end, they all agree it was the right decision.
“While it’s not always a good thing to be Europe’s first, when it is backed by a well-known name like ABB, you know you can trust them,” says Netland. “And so far that trust has paid off. The reliability has been good.”
Those sentiments have been echoed by Titania’s deputy leader for mine maintenance, Stig Olsen.
“For me it’s big, it’s strong, it seems to run and run and run,” says Olsen. “The solution is robust, it’s reliable and it brings lower maintenance.”