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Automation saves Mopani 30p.c. power usage

Mopani Copper Mine (MCM) is saving 30 per cent of its power usage at its one of the world’s most sophisticated underground copper mines dubbed Mufulira Deeps as the automation process is resulting in generation of own power.

Mufulira Deeps is a brand new shaft estimated at US$277 million that Mopani has constructed in Mufulira, on the Copperbelt.

The investment has added 25 years to the life of the mine whose work started in 2013, and was ready for commissioning, Jerry Sinner, Mopani Winder Engineer said.

Mr Sinner said when Mines and Mineral Development Minister Honourable Richard Musukwa and his entourage visited the mining facility, digitalisation of the soon to be commissioned shafts had resulted in saving about 30 per cent of power thereby becoming one of the cost effective mining operations.

“The country and the region as whole is facing serious shortages of power due to a range of factors, but with technologies like this, we can manage power even in times of low supply.

He said the shafts utilise 2.5 to five megawatts of power daily but that more power would have been used if the mine did not invest in power conservation facilities.

Mr Sinner told the entourage that during various processes, the operation was able to generate some power but that the current power legal framework do not allow sending power to the national grid.

And Mopani deeps Project Engineer Patrick Akayombokwa added that the shafts had been sunk using a more efficient technology known as raise-boring: instead of drilling vertically downwards from the surface, the drilling is done upwards from underground.

“At the depth 2,000 metres Mufulira Deeps is world’s second deepest, single-shaft underground copper mine, a shade behind the 2.1 km deep Resolution Copper Mine in the state of Arizona, United States of America (USA).” Mr Akayombokwa said.

According to Mopani, the mine will be able to hoist 10,000 tonnes of copper ore to the surface every day, in a lift travelling at 18 metres per second.

That’s six times faster than an average commercial office lift in the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building in Dubai.

By Kennedy Mupeseni, Times of Zambia.

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