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A complex modernization project 1,300 meters underground

November 28, 2018

Location: Oyu Tolgoi, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Challenge: Reliable operations below the earth’s surface

Solution: Upgrading and retrofitting existing cranes for operations in demanding conditions

In Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, over 500 kilometers south of Ulaanbaatar, lies the Oyu Tolgoi mine. The site is being developed as a joint venture between the Government of Mongolia and Turquoise Hill, a majority owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto.

The mine boasts one of the world’s largest deposits of copper and gold. Turquoise Hill expects average production from 2025 to 2030 to be more than 550,000 tons of copper and over 450,000 ounces of gold per year. While most of the activities have been completed in an open pit, about 80% of the valuable metals lie 1,300 meters underground. 

Due to the high temperatures, increased humidity and corrosive environment that exist beneath the earth’s surface, equipment has had to be serviced and upgraded to be able to extract these valuable resources as efficiently and safely as possible. Konecranes modernized cranes to enable them to adapt to such harsh conditions. Aside from fulfilling stringent mining equipment specifications, the cranes also had to meet requirements for lifting materials, structures and control systems.

Meeting a tight deadline

“Based on the customer’s service request, Konecranes was commissioned to deliver a total of nine cranes over six months. The cranes in question had already been operating on-site for over three years,” says Konecranes branch manager Peter Chen.

As site conditions varied regularly, being able to adjust operations quickly and accordingly was important to carrying out the project on time. “To succeed, planning, implementation and communication were vital. More than 1,000 different components and parts were used to complete this project. One key challenge involved completing material procurement and safe transportation within the project schedule,” continues Chen.

Prior to the installation phase, Konecranes modified the construction plan to meet customer requirements. During installation, the service team focused on safety to enable a successful and safe delivery of the cranes to the mine.

Total service commitment

Before being transported to the site, the equipment was rigorously tested to see that they were functioning correctly. Konecranes engineers maintained close communication with all parties involved in order to implement the project plan effectively.

Following the highly complex modernization project, the nine cranes finally headed underground equipped with the latest generation components and parts.

“Konecranes is a professional and reliable company. The project team quickly responded to our requirements. Their high coordination capability on-site made it possible for us to meet our tight project schedule. We will continue to cooperate with Konecranes on our future expansion,” states Ganzorig Sukhbaatar, Special Essential Service of Oyu Tolgoi LLC.

Text: Kristian Orispää