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CHAPTER 9.

Electric Power Distribution


and Utilization
Reinhold A. Errath

POWER DISTRIBUTION IN MINING

was used because most systems at that time were powered by


DC generators. Direct current has a number of advantages for
haulage, the most outstanding of which is that series-wound
DC motors have excellent traction capabilities.
In the early 1920s, the first electrically driven mining
machine for underground use, the coal cutter, was introduced.
This was followed almost immediately by the loader, also
driven by DC motors. In mines with rail haulage, trailing cables
supplied power to the machines from trolley wires and rails.
In the late 1930s, the next significant increase in power
consumption came with the introduction of the shuttle car. The
car was battery powered at first. Later, an automatic reeling
device to handle a trailing cable was added to overcome the
deficiencies of batteries; the cable was connected to the haulage power system. This equipment, when combined with the
cutters and loaders, placed additional demands on the DC distribution system.
In the late 1940s, DC was again expected to provide the
power as continuous mining machines began to be used extensively in coal mines. However, continuous mining equipment
typically consumed more energy than did the various conventional mining machines that they replaced. Consequently DC
now proved unsatisfactory in most cases, and the high current
demand created enormous voltage drops in the distribution
system. The DC supply system was therefore separated from
the haulage system, but even this proved inadequate. Voltages
at the machines were so far below rated values during peak
operating periods that even moderate efficiency was unachievable. The increasingly large cable sizes required to supply the
needed power were difficult to handle. The use of three-phase
alternating current (AC) motors and distribution was the obvious answer.
Mines quickly converted from DC to AC for both distribution and high-horsepower loads in mines when higher
voltages were permitted by the authorities. As a result of
these conversions, mine power systems generally now have
two voltage levels: distribution and utilization. The substation transforms the utility voltage down to distribution levels.
Power is distributed through conductors from the substation
to the power center (sometimes called the load center). The

This chapter introduces the engineer to electrical power use in


mining and concentrator plants, drawing upon mining equipment designs of the last decade.
Todays mine power systems are complex and subject to
numerous technological and environmental constraints. It is no
longer possible to treat the subject with the indifference shown
in the past. Power distribution equipment is partly stationary and
partly mobile, and subject to extreme levels of dust, moisture,
and vibration. Mining and concentrator machinery create electrical loading that is often cyclic and variable. Designing and
maintaining such an electrical distribution system is challenging and demanding, and requires specialist knowledge of both
mining and electrical engineering. Effective mine management
requires that those who are responsible for production and safety
be familiar with the mines electrical distribution system.
Typical mining and concentrator-plant power requirements today are ~120MW for a 100,000-t/d (metric tons per
day) plant. In the utility substation, power is transformed from
transmission distribution voltage to commonly 22 to 33 kV,
and then carried to major load areas to supply large industrial
consumers directly or to power distribution substations that
step the voltage down.
It is the responsibility of the mining company to select
the voltage best suited to its needs. The choice depends primarily on the amount of power purchased. It is not safe to
assume that a power company can serve a large mine complex from existing primary distribution lines or even from the
transmission system. The problem stems from the fluctuating
nature of mine loads. For example, large excavators in surface mines can require high peak power for a short time, followed by regenerative peak power, all cycling within a span
of 45 seconds. Fluctuating loads can create voltage and frequency variations beyond the limit set for other utility customers. Similarly, most large draglines and shovels require 4.16 to
30kV to start up.
History of Electrical Use in Mines
In the late 1800s, electricity was introduced into mines in the
form of direct current (DC) for rail haulage. Direct current

Reinhold A. Errath, Technology Manager for Drives, ABB Switzerland Ltd., Baden, Switzerland

683

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SME Mining Engineering Handbook

power center is either a portable switch room or fixed installed


e-rooms where voltage is transformed to low-voltage utilization levels: today typically 660 or even 480 V. However,
despite this reference to voltage levels, the terms distribution
and utilization describe functions of the power system, not
specific voltage ranges.
Originally, primary AC distribution was made at 2,300 or
4,160 V. In most mines, these levels were later increased to
7,200 or 13,200V. The principal reason for the increase was
that, at higher voltages, the same load draws correspondingly
less current. Cables can thus be smaller, which reduces costs
and also distribution losses. From the beginning, 480V AC was
most popular for utilization, despite the fact that drive powers
progressively increased as continuous mining proved successful. The downside was that additional drive power required
larger trailing cables. Most operations compensated by raising the rated motor voltages to 550V. Recently, manufacturers have produced machines with 950-, 2,400-, and 4,160-V
motors to further overcome problems with trailing cables.
Whereas series-wound DC motors were universally used
for underground rail haulage, the first large motors used for surface mining were shunt-wound DC because of their constantspeed characteristics. Initial distribution for electric shovels
was also DC.
Technological advances soon made AC power systems superior and AC motors were tried with some success.
However, by 1927, AC/DC motorgenerator (MG) sets and the
invention of the WardLeonard (W-L) control concept caused
these efforts to be abandoned. The new control system enabled
motor speed to be varied by altering the armature voltage while
maintaining a constant voltage across the shunt field. The MG
sets functioned as onboard power-conversion units, thereby
establishing the use of AC distribution in surface mines. Sets
driven by synchronous or induction AC motors, W-L control,
and DC motors established the standard, and even now the
combination is still used on older mining excavators.
The W-L concept is no longer used for new installations.
Rather, the standard today is the frequency converter and the
AC motor. The multiple-drive (sometimes called multidrive)
configuration, which is standard now for shovels with more
than one motor, is a fully 4Q operating system, where 4Q signifies four quadrantsthat is, motor and generator modes in
both directions of rotation.
Power Terminology
Several terms are used to describe the operation of a power
system. These terms are applicable not only in system design,
operation, and maintenance but also in utility company billing.
The sum of the electrical ratings for all equipment in an
electrical operation gives the total connected load, expressed
in kilowatts (kW), kiloamperes (kA), kilovolt-amperes (kVA),
or amperes (A). Many loads operate intermittently, especially for mining equipment, with varying load conditions.
Accordingly, power demand is frequently less than the connected load. This fact is important in the design of a mine
power system. The system should be designed for what the
connected load actually uses, rather than the total connected
load. Obviously, these considerations have great impact on
power system investment.
IEEE has standard definitions for load combinations and
their ratios because of the importance of assessing equipment
power demands. The most important definitions are the following (IEEE 141-1986):

Demand: Electrical load for an entire complex or a single


piece of equipment averaged over a specified time interval. The time or demand interval is generally 15minutes,
30minutes, or 1.0hour. Demand is generally expressed
in kilowatts, kilovolt-amperes, or amperes.
Peak load: Maximum load consumed or produced by one
piece or a group of equipment in a stated time period. It
can be the maximum instantaneous load, the maximum
average load, or (loosely) the maximum connected load
over the time period.
Maximum demand: Largest demand that occurs during a
specified time period.
Demand factor: Ratio of the maximum demand to the
total connected load.
Diversity factor: Ratio of the sum of the individual maximum demands for each system part or subdivision to the
complete system maximum demand.
Load factor: Ratio of the average load to the peak load,
both occurring in the same designated time period. This
can be implied to be equal to the ratio of the actual power
consumed to the total connected load in the same time
period.
For example, consider a power cable supplying several
mining sections in a mine or concentrator plant. The sum of
the connected loads on the cable, multiplied by the demand
factor for these loads, yields the maximum demand that the
cable must carry. When applied to current, this is the maximum amperage. Good demand factors for mine power systems are in the range 0.70.8, depending on the number of
operating sections; the lower value is used when there are
fewer producing units.
The demand factor can be extended to include estimates
of average load. For instance, the sum of the average loads
on a cable multiplied by the demand factor provides the average load on the cable. A prime application here is for approximating the current that a conductor is expected to carry. The
demand factor and the diversity factor can be applied to many
other electrical applications, such as estimating transformer
capacities, protective circuitry continuous ratings, and the
load that a utility company must supply.
The load factor can be used to estimate the actual loads
required by equipment. Here the total connected load multiplied by the load factor yields an approximation of the actual
power consumed. The average load factor in underground
mining tends to be low, due mainly to the cyclic nature of
machine operation but also to the use of high-horsepower
motors for performing specific functions, sometimes for only
a small fraction of the possible running time.
The peak load is normally one basis that utility companies use to determine power bills. Most often, one month is the
specified time period. Demand meters are often installed at the
utility companys metering point.
Design Criteria
The goal of the engineer is to provide an efficient, reliable
electrical system at maximum safety and for the lowest possible cost. The types of information made available to the
engineer include the following:



Expected size of the mine


Anticipated potential expansion
Types of equipment to be used
Haulage methods to be used

Electric Power Distribution and Utilization

Available power from the utility company


Amount of capital assigned for the electrical system
Designing a safe, reliable electrical power distribution network for an industrial plant requires detailed planning to avoid
installation, commissioning, and operational problems and
limitations of future plant expansions. Basic questions regarding mine operation scenarios need to be answered, and careful
attention must be paid to the following:
Location of equipment, altitude, and earthquake zone (for
installations at >1,000m above sea level, design must be
suitable for operation at higher altitudes; in earthquakeprone areas, design must be as specified in the International
Building Code [ICC 2009], which replaced the older
Uniform Building Code)
Safety of electrical technicians and other personnel, reliability of operation, simplicity, maintainability, and selective
system operation
Voltage regulation (to handle fluctuations in voltage resulting from changes in electrical load), high/medium/low voltage levels (designated HV/MV/LV) and breaker technology,
transformer sizes and impedances, protection monitoring,
and control philosophy
Load flow and network harmonic studies, harmonic distortion levels at the point of common coupling (PCC), electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) issues, and power factors
System efficiency, grounding and lightening, and potential for expansion
Of these, safety, reliability, and simplicity are closely related,
depend on good preventive maintenance, and are of vital concern in the cramped, inhospitable environment of a mine operation, especially in underground mines. Routine and dedicated
maintenance should be performed only by electrically trained
personal, and training for these tasks must be provided.
Importance must be paid to the mean time between failures (MTBF). The failure rate increases as the number of
installed components in a system increases. Similarly, the
mean time to repair (MTTR) must also be carefully considered. Safety is enhanced with reliability measures such as
adequate interrupting capacity, current-limiting capability,
and selective system operation. Adequate interrupting capacity and current-limiting capability ensure protection during a
disturbance. Current limiting, when applied to grounding, is
perhaps the most significant personnel safety feature of mine
electrical systems. Selective system operation is a design concept that minimizes the effect of system disturbances.
Although initial cost is important, it should never be the
determining factor in the design of a mines power system.
High-cost equipment can easily offset first costs by reducing
operating costs when designs maximize safety and reliability.
Using the data available, the task of the mine electrical
engineer is to




Select one combination of power equipment;


Provide power or circuit diagrams;
Estimate equipment, operating, and maintenance costs;
Set system specifications; and
Receive and assess proposals from suppliers.

The engineer must possess a firm knowledge of mine


power systems and operating plans. No two mines are exactly
alike, so there can be no standard mine electrical system. The
engineer must resort to fundamental concepts, an awareness of

685

what has worked in the past, and a clear understanding of technological, operational, environmental, and safety constraints.
Power Supply and Distribution Equipment Solutions
The increase in power plant size in the last decade has been
accompanied by an evolution in mine power systems toward
higher complexity. Key aspects of concern must now include
the following:



Overhead power transmission


Voltage level
HV substation
HV, MV, and LV technologies

Overhead Power Transmission

Power requirements for a 100,000-t/d plant can typically reach


120MW as a consequence of almost yearly increases in grinding-equipment size involving, for example, huge mine hoists,
transport belts, and pumps. In addition, concentrator plants are
usually built in remote areas where power supply and network
conditions are not always adequate. The trend in load-behavior
characteristics over the last few years, from network linear
loads to nonlinear loads, requires sufficient network shortcircuit power capability to operate the electrical equipment
correctly. Adjustable-speed drives constitute 80% of the total
installed power in todays modern mine operations, resulting in
7090-MW nonlinear loads from 120MW of installed power.
The short-circuit power at the PCC defines whether a
plant is normally operable or special measures must be taken.
The best engineering practices specify the following:
If the short-circuit power at the PCC, in megavoltamperes, is a factor of >6 times the total nonlinear
installed power in megawatts, no special measures need
be taken. If the factor is <6, consideration must be given
to implementing special filter and compensation units,
voltage compensators, or, in the worst case, rotating synchronous condensers.
The minimum short-circuit power at the PCC must be
400 MVA for a 100,000-t/d plant. The maximum shortcircuit level must be kept within the breaker-protection
capability.
There are in principle four remedial approaches.
Approach 1: Replace single lines with two parallel
lines. For plants in remote areas, overhead power-line lengths
from the next power station can easily be up to 400km. The
transportability of electrical energy is reduced significantly
in such cases because of the inductive resistance of the line.
A solution is to run not just single lines but two parallel
lines (Figure 9.1-1A). For example, a single overhead line
whose short-circuit power is 700 MVA at the beginning of
the line furnishes, at 300km, only 40% of its original value
(280 MVA); two parallel lines furnish 60% of their original
value (420MVA).
Approach 2: Increase voltage in the lines. An alternative method of boosting short-circuit power in overhead lines
is to increase the line transmission voltage (Figure 9.1-1B).
For example, a 230-kV overhead line whose short-circuit
power is 700MVA at the beginning of the line furnishes, at
300km, only 40% of its original value (280 MVA); a 400kV
line furnishes 70% of its original value (490MVA).
Approach 3: Use direct current. Another solution, for
distances of >600km, is to use DC transmission (Figure9.12).

SME Mining Engineering Handbook

100

100

90

90

80

80

Short-Circuit Power, %

Short-Circuit Power, %

686

70
60
50
40
30
20
10

70
60
50
40
30
20
10

0
0

0
0

50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500

50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500

Line Length, km

Line Length, km

A. For a single (solid) and two parallel (dashed) lines

B. For 230-kV (solid) and 400-kV (dashed) lines

Figure 9.1-1 Short-circuit power as a function of overhead line length

AC

Transformer

Rectifier

Inverter

Transmission
Line

AC
Network

DC
Network

Transformer

AC

AC
Network

Figure 9.1-2 DC transmission

DC transmission by overhead line or by cable at high voltage


(7501,000 kV) is an alternative at these distances. Relevant
factors are the voltage drop from the beginning to the end of
the line and the ohm resistance (there is no inductive line resistance). A significant advantage over AC transmission is the nonattenuation of short-circuit power along the line.
Approach 4: Produce supporting power directly at
the plant. Power production directly at the plant is technically advantageous. First, there is no attenuation; full power
is available at the plant. Second, network short-circuit power
on the PCC is improved. This approach makes sense for plants
located in remote areas. For example, an additional on-site
power generator of 50 MVA increases network short-circuit
power to ~350 MVA and solves many problems that are characteristic of weak networks. However, the advantages of this
solution are largely outweighed by the disadvantages, including the need to transport fuel to remote areas and the logistical
and technical problems at high altitudes.
Voltage Level

The network connection voltage is generally determined by


the power utility and depends on the required power of the
new facility, capacity of the local network, location of utility
substations, and utility network voltages. Typical loads that
utility authorities allow for connection to their system are
listed in Table9.1-1.
Utility planning authorities dictate their requirements and
rules in most cases when permitting connection to their electrical grid. Typical considerations include the following:
Ownership of the substation
Total harmonic distortion limits (set by the authorities to
typically <5%)

Table 9.1-1 Typical loads allowed by utility authorities


IEC* Connection
Voltage, kV

NEMA Connection
Voltage, kV

Load, MW

11

13.8

20

22

24

20

33

38

40

66

72

60

132

145

150

220

260

200

500

550

500

*IEC = International Electrotechnical Commission.


NEMA = National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

Power factor requirements (set by the authorities to typically >0.9)


Maximum power drawn
Short-circuit contribution from plant to grid
Equipment and installation standards that must be fulfilled
Protection and metering requirements
Load-shedding systems
HV Substation

After the coupling voltage has been determined with the utility, the HV substation can be considered. Factors to consider
include the following:



Current requirements
Lighting and voltage insulation levels
Short-circuit levels
Environment

Electric Power Distribution and Utilization

Table 9.1-2 Typical loads allowed by utility authorities for HV


switchgear and associated equipment
Connection Voltage, kV

Load, A

Short-Circuit Level, kA

66

3,150

40

132

3,150

40

220

3,150

40

500

3,150

40

Site conditions (potential pollution, earthquake, and


atmospheric conditions)
Common engineering practice in the last two decades is
to indicate the most-used configuration in terms of load and
short-circuit levels for HV switchgear and associated equipment, as shown in Table9.1-2.
The substation should be located as close as practical to
the load without compromising safety and access to the site
and plant during construction and future expansions. The location should be chosen so as to minimize contamination from
dust sources such as stockpiles and from airborne chemicals.
To minimize power outages, redundant incoming power supplies should be considered.
Use of underground cables and surge arrestors rather than
overhead line construction should be considered when designing the substation. This solution minimizes exposure to lighting strikes and provides a good safety margin for inadvertent
accidental contact with live HV connections by heavy machinery or personnel.
Depending on the configuration from the overhead line
(i.e., whether there is one line or two lines from different
sources), often multiple HV/MV transformers, 50 to 80MVA
each, are installed. On the MV side, the transformers also feed
three or four distribution systems that are connected by selectable tie breakers. This configuration covers all plant operational conditions including failure of one of the transformers.
Because of the operational flexibility with this configuration,
it is essential that a switching concept for the tie breakers be
implemented. The concept must respect not only the plant
load but also power factors and network harmonics.
Usually automatically operated tap changers are installed
on the primary side of the transformers. Tap changers provide
the correct voltage to the plant and mine consumers, and compensate for voltage variations in the HV feeder line or voltage
changes due to varying load requirements in the plant. Tap
changers are usually switchable in 2.5% and 5% steps. It is
critical that the function of the tap changers be coordinated as
soon as the distribution bars on the secondary side are connected (i.e., the tie breaker is closed). One tap changer must be
designated master and the others slaves. Later, if more plant
loads are added, it can be relatively simple to boost the transformers for more power with forced cooling.
A delta primary connection and wye (Y-shaped) secondary connections are preferred for standard two-winding power
transformers, and are commonly used in mine power centers.
The wye secondary connection provides an easy means for
resistance grounding. The delta primary connection isolates
the distribution circuit from the utilization circuit with respect
to ground currents. The deltawye connection stabilizes the
secondary neutral point and minimizes production of harmonic voltages. In certain situations, a delta secondary connection may be specified and the primary connection may be

687

a delta or a wye. If neutral grounding is desired or required, a


grounding transformer is needed to derive a neutral grounding
point.
The point of common coupling (PCC) is the point where
the utility ends and the plant starts. This point defines the
following:
Level of voltage distortion from the utility to the plant
and contribution from the plant to the utility, needed to
design the harmonic filters. The most frequently used
standard is IEEE 519-1992.
Power factor from the plant to the utility, needed to design
power factor correction equipment. A value of >0.95 is
generally required.
Allowable voltage fluctuations, needed to design equipment for the rated load and to protect it from over- and
undervoltages.
Network short-circuit power, in megavolt-amperes,
needed to design harmonic filters and converter transformer impedances.
A typical power distribution configuration for a mine and
plant operating at >100,000t/d is shown in Figure9.1-3.
HV and MV Technologies

HV and MV technologies relate primarily to the types of


switchgear system used. Switchgear systems are of two types:
air-insulated switchgear (AIS) and gas-insulated switchgear
(GIS) (Figures9.1-4 and9.1-5).
Conventional metal-clad AIS systems fully fitted with
draw-out circuit breakers (CBs) are in common use. For primary distribution circuits, either vacuum or sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) circuit breakers can be used. Both provide similar
operating and technical characteristics. Vacuum circuit breakers are lower in cost but can expose electrical distribution
systems to overvoltages from motors during the switching-off
cycle. This problem can be eliminated by using fused vacuum
contactors (FVCs) rather than circuit breakers. FVCs should
be considered for high short-circuit levels or high MV-motor
switching cycles. Their use provides MV motor protection,
reduces required cable sizes and thus costs, and prolongs
device life by reducing the amount of let-through energy
incurred.
These relative performances of these three AIS technologies are compared in Table 9.1-3. The cable sizes required
for use with various FVC and CB configurations are listed in
Table9.1-4.
GIS systems offer several advantages over AIS systems.
They are much more compact (20 #15m, as compared with
75#75m). They are available up to 500kV and are minimally
affected by power derating factors. They can easily accommodate a duplicate bus-bar system. They are suitable for use in
site conditions that are arduous with high contamination, high
altitude, or extreme climatic conditions. They can become costeffective when consideration is given to substation real estate,
civil works excavations, and geographical location. Systems are
available that provide visible isolation and equipment grounding facilities for operator verification, thus ensuring safe and
practical isolation of the electrical plant.
Primary distribution network voltage should be determined according to a sites distribution distances and powerflow requirements, which depend in turn on site size, location,
and conditions. Current requirements, lighting, voltage insulation levels, and short-circuit levels are all important.

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SME Mining Engineering Handbook

1200A

220 kV

1200A

1200A

100 MVA

1200A

100 MVA

100 MVA

23 kV

600A

1250A 1250A

1250A 1250A

600A

23 kV

1200A

2500A

1250A 1250A

600A

23 kV

Other
Plant Load

3000A

3000A

23 kV

1200A

Ball Mill
16 MW

SAG Mill
22 MW

1200A

40 kA

Harmonic
Filter

1200A

3000A

3000A

3.45 kV

1200A

3000A

3000A

3.45 kV

3000A

3x450kW

2x1000kW

3x400kW

4x1120kW

2x300kW

6x500kW

4x500kW

4x300kW

3000A

5x1200kW

3000A

1200A

400V

Flotation

Harmonic
Filter

Crushers
Overhead Line

To Main Substation
Auxiliary
Transformer

1200A

Ball Mill
16 MW

1250A

M
4x300kW

2500A

1250A 1250A 1250A 1250A 1250A

Transfer
Switch
Diesel
Generator
3 MVA

1250A

Figure 9.1-3 Typical power distribution configuration for a mine and plant

A. With vacuum circuit breakers

B. With SF6 circuit breakers

C. With fused vacuum contactors

Figure 9.1-4 Air-insulated switchgear systems

The cost of cabling between substations should be a determining factor in distribution voltage selection. Substation and
associated equipment for MV installations should be designed
for full arc fault containment to provide maximum operator
safety during installation or in the event of an internal switchgear fault. Consideration should be given as to how to increase
distribution voltage when current and short-circuit values rise
above the typical values shown in Table9.1-5.
When supply outages cannot be tolerated, duplicate bus-bar
systems should be considered for switchgear. Such systems give

additional flexibility to the power distribution system. However,


they are relatively costly. Consideration should also be given to
emergency power feeds for critical areas of the process.
LV Technologies

Civil installation and transformer costs can be minimized by


careful grouping and positioning of motor control centers
(MCCs). Redundant or standby drives and feeders should be
positioned within the MCC so as to avoid common modes
of failure such as cubicle faults and loss of control supplies.

Electric Power Distribution and Utilization

689

Cabling and hardware costs for connecting the electrical and


control systems are simplified with the advent of intelligent
switchgear systems with electronic protection and monitoring
and with control devices with communication facilities.
Larger MCC installations can be accommodated with
appropriately large switching-hardware current ratings and
short-circuit clearing capacities. Large industrial projects
increasingly use 690-V rather than 400-V systems; the relative capabilities of the two systems are shown in Table9.1-6.
Single loads, for instance for a motor, are limited to the values
shown in the table due to the need to limit the thermal loading
of the connected MCC module.
MCC packing density should also be confirmed to avoid
excessive temperatures in the MCC and associated components. As with MV gear, the cost of cabling between areas
should be a determining factor in the selection of operating
voltage. Substation and associated equipment for LV installations should be designed for full arc fault containment.
For weak networks, any voltage drop upon motor startup must be considered, as well as the cable length and size
between the MCC and the motor. If the voltage drop is outside limits, the motor may not start at all, because the start-up
torque capability of a squirrel-cage induction motor is proportional to the square of the voltage drop. In such cases a better
solution is to use frequency converters for assisted start-up.

Figure 9.1-5 Gas-insulated switchgear system

Table 9.1-3 Relative performances of three AIS technologies


Switchgear Technology
Performance Criteria

Vacuum CB

SF6 CB

FVC

Mechanical endurance

10,000 operations

10,000 operations

500,000 operations

Electrical endurance

30,000 operations

30,000 operations

500,000 operations

Short-circuit let-through energy

Full short-circuit current

Full short-circuit current

Limited by fuse

Table 9.1-4 Cable sizes required for use with various FVC and CB configurations
Cable Cross-Sectional Area Required, mm2
Short-Circuit Installation Level = 31.5kA

Short-Circuit Installation Level = 50kA

Motor Full-Load Current, A

FVC

CB

FVC

CB

45

35

185

35

300

60

35

185

50

300

75

35

185

50

300

90

50

185

50

300

120

50

185

70

300

150

50

185

70

300

165

50

185

70

300

185

50

185

70

300

225

70

185

95

300

Table 9.1-5 Typical loads and short-circuit levels for MV switchgear and associated equipment
Connection Voltage, kV

Typical Load, A

Typical Short-Circuit Level, kA

6.6

4,000

50

11

4,000

50

22

2,500

25

33

3,150

40

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SME Mining Engineering Handbook

Soft starters are applicable only in certain cases, mainly for


limiting network start-up current.
Power Quality Support Equipment
Power quality support equipment includes filter and compensation units, static-voltage compensators, active filters, and
synchronous condensers.

Table 9.1-6 Loads and short-circuit levels for LV 400- and 690-V
motor control centers
Voltage, V

Load, A

Short-Circuit Level, kA

Single Loads, kW

400

5,000

80

315

690

5,000

65

500

Filter Group B

Filter Group C

Filter and Compensation Units

Filter and compensation (F&C) units must be applied in most


cases to comply with IEEE 519-1992 for network quality.
F&C units are ideally positioned at the MV level and cover all
harmonic-producing loads.
All electrical equipment that consumes nonsinusoidal
current from the supplying line must be considered to be a
source of harmonic current, and all other equipment such as
transformers and AC motors must be considered to contribute
to harmonic pollution of the network. Equipment impact can
be more or less severe depending on the amplitude and frequency of the harmonic currents. Network impedance also has
a significant influence on the magnitude of harmonics.
Frequencies in the spectra of harmonic-generating
loads can arise from both constant-frequency and variablefrequency sources.
Cycloconverters and frequency converters clearly produce harmonic-producing loads. Beyond these, the inrush
current effects of switching on converter transformers must
be taken into account. The magnitude of the inrush current
is based on the saturation inductances of the transformer and
can reach 6 to 7 times the nominal current. The inrush current
contains all integer low-order (including zero-order) harmonics for DC components. Harmonic components decay with a
time constant ranging from several seconds for low-power
transformers to a few minutes for high-power transformers.
Second-order harmonics are not normally expected in
plants, but their presence causes heavy distortion of the network, so their potential to cause negative effects is rated as
high. It is therefore necessary to damp second-order harmonics with a filter, even though it is expensive to do so. This
is especially important for weak networks with consequently
low network natural parallel resonance, because the potential
danger of hitting the network with low parallel resonance during transformer switch-on is high and therefore equipment
damage is likely.
Cycloconverter input current distorts the supply voltage to
an extent that depends on supply system impedance. For strong
supply systems with high fault levels, the effect on the supply
voltage is minimal. However, for weak supply systems or low
fault levels, the supply voltage becomes highly distorted. A
highly distorted voltage can disturb the operation of sensitive
devices connected to the system or simply increase their losses.
A typical filter configuration for a plant contains groups
of switchable passive filters starting with F2 for the second harmonic and continuing with F3, F4, F5, F7, and F11
(Figure9.1-6). The total filter configuration for a 100,000-t/d
plant is ~70 MVAr (megavolt-amperes reactive, the unit of
reactive power in an AC power system).
All of the following additional technologies are implemented today in different configurations that support but
do not replace F&C systems (Errath et al. 2001a, 2001b). A
breakthrough with active filters will be realized only if the
switching frequency of the elements increases by a factor of
~10 and prices decrease by a factor of ~5.

Filter Group A

F2/3-A F3/3-A F4/3-A

F5/3-B F7/3-B F11/3-B

F5/3-C F7/3-C F11/3-C

Figure 9.1-6 Typical filter configuration for a plant


Static VAR Compensators

Static VAR compensators (SVCs) control the reactive


power (VAR) and are used mainly in weak utility networks
(Figure9.1-7). An SVC holds line voltage at a constant level.
Most power systems can be represented by a simple model
showing source voltage, bus short-circuit capacity, impedance from the source, feed line to the plant, and plant load
characteristics. However, loads are never constant. In the milling part of a mine where the largest single loads are incurred,
starting or stopping one drive can affect total plant load by
10% to 20% and change plant bus voltages by 5% or even
10%. To compensate for changes in line voltage, SVCs can be
used as switched capacitors to produce stepped increases or
decreases in voltage.
SVCs control VAR steplessly (without voltage jumps)
within small tolerances (~1% reaction in three sinusoidal
cycle times). They raise voltage by adding VARs (adding
capacitive VARs) and lower voltage by subtracting VARs
(adding inductive VARs), thus enabling the voltage on a bus
to be kept constant.
The information needed for regulation is the bus line
voltage and the line current. The regulator defines the firingpulse angle from the SVC. Some SVC layouts are of mixed
configuration, in which some capacitors are switched in and
out and the rest are regulated by the SVC. This configuration
minimizes SVC size, although total capacitive power remains
the same. When using an SVC in a utility supply system as a
voltage stabilizer, it is advisable to position it as close as possible to the plant, because SVC function must be electrically
coordinated with the F&C unit in the plant.
An important consideration when using an SVC is that its
large reactive power (~50100MVAr for a 100,000-t/d plant)
causes network parallel resonance to decrease. What constitutes a reasonable amount of harmonic contribution in the network must also be considered.
Active Filters

In the mineral industry, the use of active filters is still restricted


to smaller units of ~4MVA or multiples of that value connected

Electric Power Distribution and Utilization

I = Current
P = Active Power
Q = Reactive Power
U = Voltage

110 %

Medium Voltage Bus Bar


I
Ref
cos

100 %
90 %

P, Q

Qref

Bus Voltage
Capacitive Current

691

Pulse
Firing/
Logic

C-Type
High-Pass
Bank & Filter Bank & Filter
Inductive Current

Reactive Power

Capacitive Power

Figure 9.1-7 Static voltage compensator

in parallel. This restriction is due mainly to the actual high


investment cost of the active filters and the inability of this
technology to cope with higher harmonics.

G = Generator
M = Motor

Synchronous Condensers

Synchronous condensers have played a major role in voltage


and reactive power control for many years (Figure9.1-8). A synchronous condenser rotates or spins freely, unconnected to the
network. Its relatively small frequency-controlled motor rotates
increasingly faster until it reaches the synchronous speed.
Synchronous condensers have been connected at both
subtransmission and transmission voltage levels to improve
stability and maintain the voltage within desired limits under
varying load conditions. However, they are used mainly to
supply a portion of the required converter reactive power and
to provide system reinforcement as needed. They are a proven
solution for increasing short-circuit power in plants and also
increasing the networks parallel resonance.
Synchronous condensers have an inherent advantage over
capacitors in that they are functionally synchronized with the
power system. Their field is controlled so as to induce them
to either generate or absorb reactive power. A further strong
advantage is their ability to ride through small network disturbances because of their large accelerated masses.
The short-circuit improvement at the point where a synchronous condenser connects with a 15MVA condenser is
~100 MVA. This performance efficiency is considered good
in that total full-load losses are <1% of the condenser rating.
Drives and Motors
Almost all relevant process drives today are adjustable-speed
drives. Traditional power distribution for fixed-speed drives
applies now only to smaller motors. Adjustable-speed drives
usually have their own distribution philosophy.
SAG Mill Drives

Large autogenous grinding (AG) and semiautogenous grinding (SAG) mills are usually powered by adjustable-speed
driveseither gearless mill drives (GMDs) or geared singleor twin-pinion drives. SAG mill drives are larger than AG mill

Control

Exitation

G
3~

M
3~

Synchronous
Condenser

Pony
Motor

Figure 9.1-8 Synchronous condenser

drives in both size and power. In new installations, power ratings for SAG mill drives can range up to 28MW.
Adjustable-speed drives are always coupled by converter
transformers that are connected to the MV distribution system.
The transformer is a converter transformer, not a distribution
transformer. The converter transformer must handle current
harmonics and nonstandard secondary voltages produced by
the drive.
A general rule for sizing converter transformers is that
the sum of their power ratings in megavolt-amperes should be
~1.9 times the power of the drive in megawatts. For example,
the 21-MW drive shown in Figure 9.1-9 requires converter
transformers with a total power rating of ~40 MVA (= 3 #
~14 MVA). Normally, three converter transformers are connected by one MV breaker to the MV bus distribution system. The secondary voltage of the transformers is relatively
lowdepending on the cycloconverter configuration, in the

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SME Mining Engineering Handbook

560 kVA

14 MVA

14 MVA

14 MVA

800 kVA

16 MVA

21 MW
U = 5200 V
U = Stator Voltage

16 MVA

16 MVA

28 MW
U=5730 V
U = Stator Voltage

Figure 9.1-9 Converter transformer in a 12-pulse configuration


for a 21-MW gearless mill drive powering a SAG or ball mill

Figure 9.1-10 Converter transformer in an 18-pulse configuration for a 28-MW gearless mill drive powering a SAG mill

range 1,0001,800 V. An isolation switch is mounted for


safety reasons between the cycloconverter and the motor. A
controlled rectifier unit is used for excitation and connected
by a converter transformer to the MV bus bar with a voltage
of <22kV.
For average-size-drive motors, converter transformers
are typically triple-wound. If the primary winding is in a delta
configuration and one of the two secondary windings is in a
star configuration with a phase shift of 30, a 12-pulse configuration is possible on the transformer (Figure9.1-9). Typical
start-up torque is up to 130% of the nominal network current.
Start-up current is very soft and is not a problem in terms of
power distribution. Maximum power is achieved only with the
rated torque at the rated speed. Thus adjustable-speed drives
are generally considered electrical-network-friendly in comparison with fixed-speed drives, which can draw start-up currents of 600% of the nominal network current.
For >25-MW-drive motors, converter transformers should
be quadruple-wound in an 18-pulse configuration because of
the physical limits of the semiconductor (Figure9.1-10) and
to minimize creation of harmonics.
Cycloconverters are fuseless. In the event of a shortcircuit in the motor or the cycloconverter, current is limited only by the impedance of the converter transformers.
Cycloconverters are designed to survive short-circuit currents for 200 ms, which is longer than an MV breaker normally takes to trip (4080 ms). Normally, three transformers
are connected by one MV breaker to the MV bus distribution
system. As an example, the motor in cycloconverter operation
is designed for 5,730 V.

challenging to use than are those with adjustable-speed motors


because of their high start-up currents. The first harmonic created is the 5th in the six-pulse configuration, except for interharmonics, followed by the 7th, 11th, 13th, and so on.
For >7-MW ball mills, drives are usually adjustablespeed GMDs. Adjustable-speed geared single- or twin-pinion
drives are also used. For adjustable-speed drives in the range
722MW, the primary converter transformer is connected in
the same manner as for a SAG mill directly to 13.8, 22, 33kV
on the MV bus. The converter transformer winding vectors are
similar to those for the SAG configuration.
For small GMDs, converter transformers are often in a
six-pulse configuration (Figure 9.1-11). The primary transformer can be connected to the MV distribution bus to 4.16,
13.8, or 22kV (maximum).

Ball Mill Drives

For 7-MW ball mills, drives are usually fixed-speed and


geared. Wound-rotor induction motors with secondary starter
or synchronous motors are usually used with adequate start-up
equipment to limit the start-up current to the network. In terms
of power distribution, drives with fixed-speed motors are more

High-Pressure Grinding Rolls

High-pressure grinding rolls (HPGRs) are another option for


grinding or milling (Figure9.1-12). HPGRs were first used in
the minerals industry in the 1990s and are known for their high
material-breaking efficiency. Their main application is for hardrock gold and copper ore. They have twin drives in a typical
power range of 2 #2MW. A grinding circuit usually consists
of two to four HPGR sets followed by two or three ball mills.
HPGRs have standard 2,300-, 3,300-, or 4,160-V motors
with reinforced bearings. The drives are mainly frequency
converters. One drive receives power from a single triplewound 56-MVA transformer. The other drive handles highload peaks up to 200% of the nominal torque and must be able
to share the load between the two rolls in a fast, controlled
manner. This load behavior must be taken into consideration
in the power distribution.
Conveyor Belts

Conveyor belts today are equipped, depending on the application, with direct on-line motors and hydraulic or gearbox
slip-ring motors with resistor starters or variable-frequency

Electric Power Distribution and Utilization

693

9.15 MVA

400 kVA

3.3 MVA

Sinus Shape Filter


5.5 MW
U=1320 V
M

Figure 9.1-11 Converter transformer in a six-pulse configuration for a 5.5-MW gearless mill drive powering a ball mill

Transformer
23/2/2 kV
3/3 MVA

Transformer
23/2/2 kV
3/3 MVA

2.5 MW

10/0.69 kV
2x800 kVA

M
3~
2.5
MVA

M
3~
2.5
MVA

f
M
3~
2.5
MVA

f
M
3~
2.5
MVA

A. For an MV multiple drive

10/0.69 kV
800 kVA

Sinus Shape Filter

2.5 MW

Figure 9.1-12 Single line of an HPGR set

24-Pulse
Supply Unit

3.3 MVA

10/0.69 kV
800 kVA

M
3~

M
3~

M
3~

M
3~

Head 1
400 kW

Head 2
400 kW

Head 3
400 kW

Tail
400 kW

B. For an LV single drive

Figure 9.1-13 Conveyor-belt drive systems

drives (Figure9.1-13). Larger conveyor systems are driven by


several motors in the power range from hundreds of kilowatts
up to 2MW at the head and tail end, depending on belt width
and length and on conveyor profile.
Overland conveyor belts can curve with uphill and downhill sections of many kilometers, and are controlled mainly
by variable-frequency drives (VFDs). Downhill applications
use mainly active front-end (regenerative) drives where the
drive electrically breaks the belt and braking energy is supplied back to the grid (Lchinger et al. 2006).
VFD supply voltages are as follows: for LV drives, 500 or
690V; for MV drives, 3.3, 4.16, or 6kV. The load behavior is
a constant torque load with a relatively low dynamic for startup and braking. Typical start-up or braking torque is between
1.15 and 1.5 times nominal torque. The supply power range

for one conveyor can vary from several hundred kilovoltamperes to ~15MVA.
Cyclone Feed Pumps

The drives of cyclone feed pumps have recently undergone


significant performance changes. A large plant typically has
two to four ~1,500-kW pumps. Pumps are usually controlled
by frequency converters and operated at low speed. The pump
motor is a scalar-controlled induction motor and often does
not have a gearbox but is coupled directly to the pump. To
achieve low-speed (600200-rpm) operation, the motors are
designed with 16 to 30 poles. Operation with a frequency
converter guarantees a soft start with low network load. The
supply voltage of the frequency-converter transformer is from
4,160 V to 22 kV. Advantages of this configuration are that

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SME Mining Engineering Handbook

Hoist Control

Main Control Desk

Drive Bus

Field Bus

PG
PE

Excitation

Dumping

Cage-Level Box

PE

PG

PG

PG

Shaft-Level
Equipment

Sync/Stop
Check Points
Cage-Level Box
Hoist Monitor

Loading

Shaft Bus
AF 100

Hoist Brake
Hydraulic Unit
PE = Pulse Encoder
PG = Pulse Generator

Figure 9.1-14 Friction-type mine hoist

it is adaptable to process requirements, energy savings, lack


of energy-wasting throttle valves and maintenance-intensive
gearbox, and the high efficiency of the drive system. A disadvantage is the higher investment cost for the motor.

frequency-converter drive (motoric and generatoric), hydraulic brake system, control system for friction, rope oscillation,
and so on. Figure 9.115 shows the electrical design for the
friction-type mine hoist shown in Figure9.1-14.

Mine Hoists

Dragline Excavators

Underground mining relies on hoists to transport people, equipment, and ore between the mining zone and the surface. In many
mines, vertical shafts are combined with a ramp. However,
ramps are not technically or economically viable in mines that
are deep or have poor rock stability. In such mines it is common
to sink both a production and a service shaft. The shafts can also
be used for ventilation purposes. The main considerations for
a mine hoist are absolute operational safety, reliability, energy
efficiency, and productivity. Grid stability must be considered
because of changing load cycles during hoist operation.
Mine hoists are of two types: friction and drum
(Figure 9.1-14). Modern hoists are powered by AC motors.
Smaller hoists with power requirements of ~1,500 kW normally use a gearbox with high-speed induction motors. Larger
hoists use a direct drive with an overhung synchronous motor.
Speed control is achieved by a voltage-source-inverter (VSI)
frequency converter.
Modern hoists are direct-drive systems; that is, the motor
is coupled directly, without the use of a gearbox, to the singleor double-drum hoist. The power of a friction-type hoist
system is in the range of 5 to 10 MW. The main components of a hoist system include a synchronous motor, 4Q

Dragline excavators are one of the largest mining machines


for overburden removal in strip mines. They can have any of
three major drive systems:
1. MG sets with digital field excitation
2. Conventional AC drives, LV or MV variable-speed with
squirrel-cage AC motors and gears
3. Gearless AC drives with gearless ring motors for hoist
and drag drums
Most draglines built between 1960 and 1990 use Ward
Leonard MG sets and DC motors. Draglines built today use
conventional or gearless AC motors. The new systems are
almost maintenance free, more efficient overall, and contain
better drive controls.
Supply power usually varies from 4 MVA for small
draglines up to 25 MVA for large draglines. Higher voltage
and short-circuit capacity are desired for better performance.
Standard dragline supply is typically 22 kV. Drive-system
voltage is typically 6kV for the synchronous motors of an MG
set and 1,400 or 690V for AC drives.
Draglines with MG-set drive systems usually have two to
four sets; some larger draglines even have six sets (two extra

Electric Power Distribution and Utilization

695

Feeders from Shaft Substation


11-kV Shaft Winder
Substation
11 kV, 3ph, 50Hz, 50 kA

11/0.69/0.433 kV

11/3.6 kV

11/3.16 kV

11/0.69/0.433 kV

Flywheel
IM
3~
G = Generator
IM = Induction Motor
M = Motor
MCC = Motor Control Center
SM = Synchronous Motor

IM
3~
Double-Drum
Winder

Emergency
Drive

415V Vital Services

M
SM
3~
Skip Winder
Motor 1

SM
3~
Skip Winder
Motor 2

Key
Interlock

G
3~

415V MCC Winder Auxiliaries

415V Diesel Generator

Figure 9.1-15 Friction-type mine hoist system, generic single-line configuration

sets for the walking mechanism). Older systems are commonly


upgraded with programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and
digitally controlled field-excitation modules. Conventional
AC drives have been successfully installed on smaller and
even a few larger draglines.
A typical application is a multiple-drive dragline
(Figure 9.1-16), where one supply unit feeds several motor
inverters over a common DC bus bar. The system shown in
the figure has two hoist motors, two swing motors, and two
drag motors. Typically two to four such sets are installed on a
dragline. The common DC bus allows energy sharing among
the motors (some motors run in motor mode, some in generating mode).
Usually a regenerative insulated-gate-bipolar-transistor(IGBT-) based supply unit is used to feed excessive braking
energy back into the grid. These units usually have better
power factors (~1) and low total harmonic distortion levels.
For weak grids, they protect the drive against voltage dips or
even short blackouts. Modern units have an adjustable leading
or lagging power factor and can be used for reactive power
compensation. The duty cycle of dragline motion is complex
and demands high drive dynamics, fast controls, and high
overload ability on the part of the motors.
Gearless drive systems are currently state of the art for
draglines. Gearless technology has emerged from mill and
mine hoist applications where gearless ring motors, integrated
into a drum, have proven to be reliable and efficient. The AC
ring motors, integrated into hoist and drag drums, are powered
by MV variable-speed drives.
Primary Crushers

Main crushing motors can be across-the-line starting, softstarting, or variable-speed, depending on crusher size, type,
and application. For hard-rock crushing, typically one motor
is MV across-the-line starting. For applications where speed

regulation is necessary, VFDs are the best choice, because


they can maintain constant-speed seizer rotation regardless of
the type or size of material fed into them. Such drives adjust
torque on the shaft to maintain speed and a continuous quality
of crushed material. The crusher can also be used for massflow control, depending on the type of crusher and the motors
type and speed range. Crusher sizes are in the lower megawatt
range.
Shovels

Today most shovels have static DC drives with digital field


control. Since the 1980s, AC shovels have been used increasingly. Small electric rope shovels with MG sets are still available but are becoming obsolete. Most shovel suppliers now
promote AC technology.
Bucket-Wheel and Bucket-Chain Excavators

Bucket-wheel and bucket-chain excavators are used in continuous mining applications where trucks are not used
(Figures9.1-17 through 9.1-19 show three of many possible
configurations). Overburden and ore are transported by conveyor belts. Spreaders are used to spread the overburden on
the reclamation side of the pit. Continuous mining is efficient
for thick, homogeneous seams of ore (generally lignite).
Excavators are complex systems. A bucket-wheel excavator typically has three or four conveyor belts, a propel system
with 3 to 12 crawlers, multiple winches for hoisting, a bucket
wheel, and swing drives. The supply power of an excavator
can reach 16MVA. The total drive power depends on the size
of the excavator and can be ~10 MVA. The supply voltage
is usually 4.16, 13.8, 22, or 30 kV. VSDs are used for propel, swing, hoist, belt, bucket-wheel, or bucket-chain drives.
Excavators are custom-built according to the geological situation. The drives and power distribution systems for spreaders
and reclaimers are similar.

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SME Mining Engineering Handbook

Transformer
22/0.69 kV
6 MVA

IGBT
Supply Unit
~3MVA

M
3~

M
3~

Hoist 1/Drag 1
P=2x2000 HP

M
3~
Swing 1
P=1600 HP

IGBT
Supply Unit
~3MVA

M
3~
Walk 1
P=730 HP

M
3~

M
3~

Hoist 2/Drag 2
P=2x2000 HP

M
3~
Swing 2
P=1600 HP

Figure 9.1-16 Multiple-drive AC dragline, single-line configuration

A bucket-chain excavator differs slightly from a bucketwheel excavator in that it drives on rails, and the propel mechanism usually has about 60 motors. The bucket chain is driven
by two large gearless ring motors supplied by a cycloconverter
whose supply power is ~2MVA and motor speed is ~13rpm.
The voltage for the bucket-chain drive is ~1,400V.
Stackers and reclaimers move on a well-defined path
and handle stockpiles of defined size, and so can usually be
completely automated for unstaffed operation. Automation is
accomplished by means of VFDs, PLC systems, and Global
Positioning Systems or laser-positioning systems for collision
protection, stockpile scanning, and ore handling. When combined with automated ore-quality detection systems, stackers
and reclaimers can significantly increase the overall efficiency
of a material-handling plant.
Other Design Considerations
Since the 1990s, plants are often installed at high altitudes in
the range 3,0004,600m. Installation at high altitude requires
special attention in dimensioning and design. In addition,
many such places are in active earthquake zones and tend to
have high snow loads, low temperatures, high wind speeds,
and other harsh environmental conditions. All such factors
must be considered in the design of a power distribution
system.
Design for High Altitude

Four principal aspects must be considered when dimensioning


equipment for high altitude: cooling, insulation, heat radiation, and utilization.

Cooling. At increasing altitude, the density of air


decreases and therefore also does its cooling capability. This
situation can be remedied by two measures: (1) increase or
adjust airflow to obtain the desired cooling effect, or (2) install
larger equipment with lower output power.
Insulation. At increasing altitude, the density of air
decreases and therefore also does its insulation capability.
Factors to use in correcting voltage ratings for reduced insulation capability due to altitude are listed in Table9.1-7. For
example, at 4,000 m, a unit of equipment rated at 690V can be
used at only 500V (690V#0.73); for MV distribution, a unit
of equipment rated at 33kV can be used only on a 22-kV bus.
Heat radiation. At increasing altitude, copper bars tend
to heat up progressively more. Cables and copper bars from the
power distribution must be dimensioned accordingly, and this
effect must be considered in the design of power distribution.
Utilization. How standard motors can be used depends
on altitude. For ambient temperatures in the range 3040C,
the maximum design temperature at sea level is reduced by the
following amounts:
Insulation class B motor: 0.8C for each 100 m above
1,000m
Insulation class F motor: 1.0C for each 100 m above
1,000m
Design for Earthquakes

Shock waves radiate from fault fracture zones and arrive at the
earths surface as complex multifrequency vibratory ground
motion with both horizontal and vertical components. The

Electric Power Distribution and Utilization

Main
Transformer
7.2/0.69 kV
4 MVA

697

Charging
Transformer
480/690 V
100 kVA

IGBT
Supply Unit
M
3~

M
3~

Hoist
2x2400 kW

M
3~

M
3~

Crowd
550 kW

M
3~

M
3~

M
3~

Swing
3x1100 kW

M
3~

Propel
2x1100 kW

Figure 9.1-17 Bucket-wheel and bucket-chain excavators with spreaders, stackers,


and reclaimers

6 kV
2 MVA
500 V

M
3~

M
3~
Swing
4x90 kW

M
3~

M
3~
Propel
12x150 kW

Figure 9.1-18 Bucket-wheel and bucket-chain excavators with stackers and reclaimers
(dashed lines)

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SME Mining Engineering Handbook

30 kV
10 MVA
6 kV
6 kV

M
3~

6 kV
3150 kVA
690 V
2x1575 kVA

6 kV
3150 kVA
690 V

6 kV
3150 kVA
690 V

M
3~

Hoist
2x560 kW

M
3~

M
3~

Bucket-Wheel
Conveyor
2x1120 kW

M
3~

M
3~

Bucket-Wheel
2x1065 kW

M
3~

M
3~

Conveyor 1 Conveyor 2
630 kW 1120 kW

M
3~

M
3~

Conveyor 2 Conveyor 3
1120 kW
630 kW

Chopper
750 kW/20 s

Figure 9.1-19 Bucket-wheel and bucket-chain excavators (multiple-drive) with stackers and reclaimers

response of buildings and mechanical constructions to earthquake ground motion depends on their strength of construction, ductility, and dynamic properties.
The basis for design and construction in areas of intense
seismic activity is defined in the standards of the International
Building Code (ICC 2009). The code standardizes magnitudes
of seismic activity and catalogs areas of known activity into
defined earthquake zones. For example, most mines in Chile
and Peru are situated in IBC zone 4.
Distribution and process equipment such as drives,
converter-power-distribution buildings, and switchhouses are
required to withstand the expected magnitude of excitation in
a defined earthquake zone. Equipment configuration is also
relevant. In general, taller and heavier constructions are larger
in mass and have lower natural resonance frequencies that can
be close to typical earthquake frequencies.
Design for Power Self-Generation

It is generally less expensive and more reliable to purchase


electric power from a utility company than to operate ones
own generating plant. However, a mine may be located in a
remote area, far from a utility transmission or distribution system, making self-generated electric power the only feasible
alternative.

Generating plants for mines are typically powered by


diesel engines or by coal-, oil-, or gas-fired boilers or even
water power. Some mines purchase electric power but also use
diesel-powered generators for standby electric power. If the
primary source of power is lost, a generator can be started
quickly and used to supply standby power to critical equipment such as ventilation fans and personnel or elevator hoists
and sensitive process parts. Special attention must be paid to
overvoltage (and also undervoltage) conditions that might result
from power self-generation.
Network voltage is generally less stable for selfgenerated power than for interconnected networks. Singleload units can easily use up to 20% of the total installed power.
SAG mills can use 2030MW, ball mills can use 1218MW,
mine hoists can use 10MW, and draglines can also have high
power demands in concentrator and mining areas. Not using
one or two mills can reduce system load by up to 50%.
A generator does not adapt to new load conditions nearly
as quickly or stably as does the utility company. Power can
take up to 10 seconds, possibly more, to stabilize, during
which time the system voltage and frequency fluctuate with
potentially dangerous consequences. Various scenarios must
be studied in detail, and the consequences of the scenarios
must be considered in system design. Installed equipment

Electric Power Distribution and Utilization

Table 9.1-7 Insulation-capability correction factors for various


altitudes
Altitude Above Sea
Level, m

Insulation-Capability
CorrectionFactor

1,000

1.0

2,000

0.9

3,000

0.8

4,000

0.73

5,000

0.66

Table 9.1-8 Cable voltage rating required for various distribution


voltages
Distribution Voltage

Cable Voltage
Rating Required

440 V

600 V or 2 kV

550 V

600 V or 2 kV

4.16 kV

5 kV

7.2 kV

8 kV

12.47 kV

15 kV

13.2 kV

15 kV

must be capable of coping with those conditions. The protection and destruction level of the equipment must be known
and designed for accordingly.

CABLES

Cables carry electricity from the substation where power is


taken from the utility-company lines to the point of utilization
by a mining machine, pump, conveyor belt, or other equipment unit. Many variations in mine distribution are possible,
and several types of cables can be put to similar use.
The cable type recommended depends on the application.
Some cables remain stationary for years; others are moved
frequently. Cables that are connected to mining machines are
called portable cables. U.S. federal regulations use the term
trailing cables for the specific type of portable cable that
is used in mines (MSHA 1981). Trailing cables are flameresistant and flexible.
In underground mines, cables that feed the power center or are attached to the high-voltage side must be moved
when the power center is moved, which generally is not often.
Similarly, in surface mines, cables that feed from switchhouses or unit substations to mobile equipment are moved
only occasionally and are not connected directly to a machine.
Stationary cables can be feeder or portable cables.
Cable moving is a recurring task both underground and
aboveground. Trailing cables can be placed on reels or spools
to facilitate moving. Reeled cables are often used on shuttle
cars, as are mobile cable reels on surface excavators.
Cable selection is based on a number of parameters
including current-carrying ability, voltage rating, and configuration. The basic components of a cable are its conductor, insulation, and jacket; there may also be fillers, binding,
shielding, and armor. The conductor is surrounded by insulation and covered by a jacket.
For optimal flexibility, cable conductors are composed of
many wires combined into strands, and a number of strands
combined to form the conductor. Conductors are either copper or aluminum; the latter is cheaper and lighter but lower in

699

conductivity. The cross-sectional area of a conductor is important for mechanical strength and is closely related to currentcarrying capacity.
Insulation is required to withstand stress from heat, voltage, and physical abuse. It must be specially designed not
only to protect mine personnel from electric shock but also to
separate power and grounding circuits effectively. Excessive
heat is particularly destructive to insulating compounds. The
main sources of heat are ambient temperature and power loss
in cable-conductor resistance.
The maximum, normal, continuous current that a conductor can carry safely is directly related to cable heating, and the
term ampacity is often used to describe this current level. The
ampacity rating is usually based on the maximum rise in conductor temperature, with the temperature limit chosen on the
basis of the specified life expectancy of the cable insulation. The
temperature class (always given in degrees Celsius) describes
the maximum allowable sustained conductor temperature at an
ambient temperature of 40C. Cable used in a confined space
can overheat with continuous current at the cables ampacity rating. This is especially true for cable wound on a reel,
either for storage or for mobility. The cables ampacity must be
derated in these cases; ampacity and derating-factor tables are
available in regulations from various governing bodies.
The most common insulating compounds for cable are
neoprene, styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), ethylene propylene
rubber (EPR), and cross-linked polyethylene (XLP). SBR is
used in 600-V trailing cables. It has good elasticity and flexibility, a 75C temperature rating, and good resistance to damage by crushing from runovers and rockfalls. EPR has replaced
SBR in many trailing cables because, for the same insulation
thickness, it has a higher voltage rating (2,000V) and higher
temperature rating (90C). XLP is also rated at 90C and is used
in HV mine-feeder and portable strip-mining cables. However,
it is stiff and therefore not recommended for reeling applications. Typical cable voltage ratings are listed in Table9.1-8.
The main purpose of the cable jacket is to protect the
inner components and hold the assembly in the designed
configuration. Common jacket materials are neoprene, nitrile
butadiene rubber plus polyvinyl chloride (NBR/PVC), and
chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE, also called Hypalon).
Armored cables are used in some borehole applications; the
heavy metallic jacket affords extra protection to the conductors and insulation.
Flat cables are commonly used on mining machinery such
as shuttle cars that have cable-reeling devices. The flat shape
allows increased length on a cable reel and is less susceptible
to run-over damage. Round cables are typical on all other mining equipment. Low-voltage AC mining machines commonly
use unshielded Type G or Type G-GC cables.
Current and voltage regulation are the major concerns in
sizing cable power conductors for an application. The effective continuous current through a cable power conductor must
be less than the cable ampacity, with correct derating factors
applied. The voltage drop across the distribution and utilization systems must be such that voltages at load are within
allowable tolerances. For trailing cables to machines, current
is often the determining factor, because these cables are almost
always relatively short. For feeder cables that serve many
loads, however, lengths are often so great that voltage drop
becomes a principal concern. Even though cable size may be
adequate in terms of ampacity and voltage drop, other factors
can affect decisions about conductor size, including tensile

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SME Mining Engineering Handbook

load, weight, and available short-circuit current. Of these,


weight can be particularly important, because cable should
not be too heavy for miners to handle. The maximum conductor size is usually considered to be 4/0AWG (American Wire
Gauge) for three-conductor cables.
Several methods can be used to determine cable current,
including full-load current, effective current demand, and
application of a load factor. Regardless of the method used,
typical current requirements for mining machinery change
continuously over time. The extremely wide variability of
mining conditions makes it difficult to define current levels
for any part of a given duty cycle with precision. Thus, the use
of full-load current is recommended.
The primary concern for voltage conditions is that satisfactory voltage must be at the machine terminals for proper startup and operation. The allowable voltage tolerance on machine
motors is usually 10% of the rated voltage. Maintaining adequate voltage is one of the more difficult problems in mining
and is often the main constraint on mine expansion.
For a thorough voltage study of a mine and its concentrator plant, all impedances and all loads in the power system
must be known. A circuit diagram must then be prepared and
calculations performed to determine whether voltage levels at
the machines are satisfactory. Analyses must be performed not
only for normal load conditions but also for start-up of critical
motors. If calculated voltages are below those tolerated, system impedance must be reduced. The most convenient way to
do so is to increase cable conductor sizes.
Cable couplers are complex plugs and sockets used throughout a mine distribution system to connect mobile machinery to
trailing cables, to connect cables with one another, and to connect
cables to power centers, switchhouses, and substations. Their
complexity is directly related to the mine environment in which
they are used; they must resist damage, be sturdy enough to withstand repeated use, prevent electrical hazards, be watertight and
dustproof, and withstand heat and cold. Some models are rated
explosion-proof. The coupling mechanism must be easy to use
yet secure. HV couplers, sized at ~15kV/500A, are used to connect switchhouses and mine power centers, to join HV cables,
and for HV machines. They accommodate three power conductors, one or more grounding conductors, and one or more groundcheck conductors. LV and MV couplers, sized at 225, 400, 600,
800, and 1,200A, are used primarily to connect mobile equipment to power centers and junction boxes and to connect 600
1,000-V cables. They are sturdy in construction but less complex
than are HV couplers.

POWER DISTRIBUTION ARRANGEMENTS

Power distribution arrangements can involve surface


overhead-line distributions, back distributions, surface mine
distributions, and underground mine distributions.
Surface Overhead-Line Distribution Arrangements
Surface transmission and distribution of electric power is
most commonly achieved by means of overhead conductors.
The conductors use air space for insulation over most of their
length. Their elevation protects them from contact with personnel and equipment.
Overhead conductors are arranged in various configurations to reduce line-to-line contact due to wind, ice loading, or
sudden loss of ice load, and may include different combinations of power, neutral, and static conductors. Aluminum conductors with steel reinforcement are commonly used because

of their strength and relatively low price, but special applications may call for other materials such as copper.
The types of overhead-line installation used for mining
are similar to those used in utility distribution systems. Pole
lines are typically used to supply equipment in surface mining
and to feed surface facilities related to mining. The lines are
normally installed on single wooden poles that can carry up
to six conductors, including three for power, one for grounding, one ground check (pilot), and one static. Pole lines can be
relatively permanent installations such as those feeding plants,
shops, and other surface facilities and long-term pit baselines
or ring mains. Temporary poles mounted in portable bases
(such as concrete-filled tires) are commonly used in surface
mining operations to carry power into the pit.
Basic Distribution Arrangements
Basic distribution systems for industrial applications are
radial, secondary-selective, primary-selective, primary-loop, or
secondary-spot configurations (IEEE 141-1986). Radial configurations are the most popular in mining, although other configurations are used where special circumstances call for greater
system reliability. Surface mines have, of course, greater flexibility than do underground mines and use a wider range of configurations. Secondary-spot configurations, which are the most
popular for large facilities in other industries, are uncommon
but can be suitable for preparation and milling plants.
A radial distribution system in its simplest form consists
of a single power source and substation supplying all equipment. Radial systems are relatively inexpensive to install
because equipment is not duplicated. They can be expanded
easily by extending the primary feeders.
A secondary-selective distribution system consists of a
pair of secondary substations connected through a normally
open tie breaker. It is both flexible and reliable; if a primary
feeder or substation fails, the bad circuit can be removed from
service and the tie breaker can be closed automatically or
manually. Maintenance and repair of either primary circuit is
possible, without incurring a power outage, by shedding nonessential loads for the period of reduced-capacity operation. If
substation requirements are greater than 5,000kVA, economics often justify this double-ended arrangement.
Surface Mine Distribution Arrangements
Mine power systems are of three types: transmission or subtransmission, distribution, and utilization.
Distribution and utilization systems can vary greatly, but
in some mines, both functions can be handled on the same
system. The location of the mine substation is usually an
economic compromise between the cost of running transmission lines and power losses in primary distribution. From the
main substation, power is distributed to the various load centers in the operation. Incoming utility transmission should be
extended to as close to the load as practical.
Subtransmission circuits, primary switchyards, and main
substations are almost always located in areas unaffected by
the mining operation. Surface mine power distribution, in its
simplest radial form, consists of a substation, distribution, and
a power center feeding the mining equipment (Figures9.1-20
and 9.1-21). This arrangement is common in small surface
operations where the distribution voltage is commonly 15,000
or 4,160V but can be as low as 2,300V in older equipment.
Although most strip mines use radial distribution,
secondary-selective distribution is also used (Figure9.1-22).

Electric Power Distribution and Utilization

701

Source

69-kV/7.2-kV
Substation
7.2-kV Overhead Poleline (Baseline)
1000 ft

1000 ft

DP

1000 ft
DP

DP

DS

1000 ft

Spare

Drill

Production Shovel

DP

DS

7.2-kV/
4.16-kV
Unit
Substation

7.2-kV/
440-V
Power
Center

TBS

DP

DS

DS

7.2-kV/4.16-kV
Unit Substation

TBS

1000 ft

DP

DP

DS

DS

1000 ft

DS
7.2-kV/
4.16-kV
Unit
Substation
TBS

TBS

TBS

To
Auxiliary
Equipment

Drill

Drill

Production Shovel
DP = Drop Point
DS = Disconnect Switch
TBS = Two-Breaker Skid

Dragline

Dragline

Source: Morley and Novak 1992.

Figure 9.1-20 Strip mine radial distribution system using overhead pole lines

From Utility

Substation
DS
Overhead Line
Ring Main

Ultimate Pit Limit

DS

Disconnects

Mine Pit

DS

Cable
DP

Shovel

DP
BS

DP
BS

BS

DS

Feeder
Line

Pumps
Drill

Poles

DP

BS

DS
DS
Substation

From Utility or
Subtransmission
Source: Morley and Novak 1992.

From Utility or
Subtransmission

BS

DP

Shovel

DS

Drill
Substation

DS
DP = Drop Point
DS = Disconnect Switch
BS = Breaker Skid

Figure 9.1-21 Open-pit ring mine radial distribution system

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SME Mining Engineering Handbook

Source 1

Main
Substation
Normally Open
Tie Breaker

Source 2

Main
Substation

Switchhouses
Baseline

Pit Highwall
Unit
Unit
Substation
Substation

Dragline

Production Shovels
Other Pit
Power

Other Pit
Power
Source: Morley and Novak 1992.

Figure 9.1-22 Strip mine all-cable secondary-selective distribution system

Source

Main
Substation
Switchhouses
Baseline

Baseline

Pit Highwall
Low-Voltage
Power Center
Pumping, Lighting

Unit
Substation

Dragline

Production Shovel

Source: Morley and Novak 1992.

Figure 9.1-23 Strip mine all-cable radial distribution system

In this configuration, a portion of the primary distribution is


established as a baseline or bus, usually located on the high
wall paralleling the pit for the entire length of the cut. It is typically located ahead of the pit and moved as the pit advances.
As machines move along the pit, their baseline connections
are changed to other convenient locations.
The baseline usually consists of overhead pole lines as
shown in Figure9.1-20. The arrangement of overhead pole lines
plus cables is common in older mining operations. Typical spacing between poles, or line span, is 60m. Drop points, denoted
in the figure by triangles, are terminations between the overhead conductors and the cables, mounted about 2.4 m above
the ground on poles and spaced at regular intervals in the range
~305457m. Cables connected to the drop points deliver power
to skid-mounted switchhouses located on the high wall or in
the pit. Cable couplers are commonly used for both feeder- and

trailing-cable connections. Disconnect and circuit-protection


functions are required for each distribution load.
Layouts for all-cable mine distributions (Figures 9.1-22
and 9.1-23) are similar to those just described. In this case;
however, the baseline is assembled using cable-interconnected
switchhouses. A common approach is to use disconnect skids
with three internal switches in the baseline and have separate
breaker skids in line with the cables feeding the machinery.
Another approach is to combine the single breaker skids into
the baseline switchhouses.
Open-pit power systems are similar to those for strip
mines with one main exception: distribution typically establishes a ring bus or main that partially or completely encloses
the pit. Radial ties to the bus complete the circuit to switchhouses located in the pit, and portable equipment again uses
shielded trailing cables.

Electric Power Distribution and Utilization

703

For secondary-selective distribution (Figure 9.1-22), a


normally open tie breaker is placed in the baseline. In some
operations, the two substations and the tie breaker are in the
same location with two feeders running from the substation
area to the baseline. Distribution voltage for the surface mine
can be 8, 15, 25, or 34.5 kV, and less commonly 4.16 kV.
The primary purpose of any distribution scheme in a surface
mine is to provide a flexible, easily moved or modified power
source for the highly mobile mining equipment.

the trolley system through a fused connection (or nip) to the


trolley conductor and rail.
All power equipment used underground must be rugged,
portable, self-contained, and specifically designed for installation and operation in limited spaces. In addition, all equipment
and connecting cables must be protected against failures that
could cause electrical hazards to personnel, primarily by protective relaying built into each system part, with redundancy
to maximize safety.

Underground Mine Distribution Arrangements


Underground mine power systems are more complicated
than surface power systems. Consider, for example, the situation for a coal mine. The nature of the mine and its service
requirements dictate that distribution must almost always be
radial; the freedom in routing distribution enjoyed by surface
mines is not available underground. For increased reliability,
secondary-selective main substations are used. Distribution
voltage is usually 8 kV, although older 5-kV systems can
still be found and 15kV has increased in popularity in recent
years.
Power and mine grounding are fed underground in
insulated cables through a shaft, borehole, or intake entry.
In coal mines, these cables are required to terminate in disconnect switches within 152m of the point of power entry
into the coal seam. The switches allow total removal of
underground power in an emergency. Power is distributed
from the disconnect switches, which may be part of a switchhouse, through cables to power centers or rectifiers located
as close to the machinery as practical. All cables on HV
circuits, usually involving only distribution, have shielding
around each power conductor. The prime load concentrations
in underground mines are created by the mining sections.
Distribution terminates at the section power center, which
is a transformer combined with a utilization bus and protective circuitry. From this, several face machines are powered
through couplers and trailing cables.
With rail haulage, distribution terminates at rectifiers
that contain a transformer and rectifier combination. The rectifiers are located in an entry or crosscut just off the railway.
DC power is supplied through circuit breakers to an overhead
conductor or trolley wire and to the rail, with additional rectifiers located at regular intervals along the rail system. For
further protection, the trolley wire is divided into electrically
isolated segments. The typical rectifier supplies the ends of
two segments of trolley wire, and each feeder has its own
protective circuitry to detect malfunctions. In some mines,
DC face equipment and small DC motors are powered from

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The author acknowledges the work of Lloyd A. Morley and


Thomas Novak on the Electric Power and Utilization chapter
from the previous edition of the handbook, from which many
parts of this chapter were taken.

REFERENCES

Errath, R.A., Bureister, P., and Sapin, A. 2001a. Sag and ball
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Errath, R.A., Riezinger, F., and Knecht, J. 2001b. How big is
big: Exploring todays limits of SAG and ball mill technology. In Proceedings of SAG 2001: The Third International
Conference on Autogenous and Semiautogenous Grinding
Technology, Vancouver, Canada, September 30October
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ICC (International Code Council). 2009. International
Building Code. Falls Church, VA: ICC.
IEEE 141-1986. IEEE Recommended Practice for Electric
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www.ieee.org.
IEEE 519-1992. IEEE Recommended Practices and
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Lchinger, P., Meier, U., and Errath, R.A. 2006. Active front
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Presented at the Cement Industry Technical Conference,
2006, April 914, Phoenix, AZ.
Morley, L.A., and Novak, T. 1992. Electric power and utilization. In SME Mining Engineering Handbook, 2nd ed.
Edited by H.L. Hartman. Littleton, CO: SME.
MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration). 1981. 30
CFR Part 18. Electric Motor-Driven Mine Equipment
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