ABB to supply power, automation for Gold Fields’ Salares Norte project

ABB is providing ABB Ability for an integrated digital system for the Salares Norte gold project belonging to Gold Fields.

ABB has won the contract to provide six electrical rooms plus an integrated digital system solution based on ABB Ability 800xA distributed control system (DCS) to Gold Fields’ Salares Norte gold-silver project in a remote region of northern Chile.

The open pit mine is located in the Atacama Desert among the highest peaks of the Andes mountain range. It is 1,300 km from the Chilean capital Santiago and has elevations between 4,200 and 4,900 metres.

ABB will deliver a common platform for process and power control using ABB Ability System 800xA, Power and Process Control Library, and Camera Connect (the ABB video system embedded in the control platform for optimized process monitoring). ABB Ability Knowledge Manager will be used to manage information production through Plant Information Management System (PIMS), alongside ABB Ability Asset Vista Condition Monitoring (integrated with SAP), an Extended Operator Workplace (EOW) as an integrated control room at the site, a collaboration table and 800xA Smart Client stations to enable read-only access to displays via a web browser.

As a common platform for the monitoring of productive, operation and support areas, ABB’s system will reduce technical risks and the number of interfaces to enable Gold Fields to unify processes at the highest level. The electrical system is fully integrated via the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard 61850, which ensures total control and visibility for the plant operations. ABB is also providing engineering and project management.

“The digital aspect is critical to this project due to its remote location – the nearest town being Diego de Almagro, 180 km away, the altitude of the project and adverse weather conditions which make site access and fieldwork difficult, especially during the winter,” said Max Combes, project director of Gold Fields.

The contract also includes a dynamic process simulator to allow checks on all control logics and for operator training purposes. Use of the simulator will make start-ups more efficient, and it will support training requirements.

In parallel to this project ABB proposed and was part of an initiative together with Gold Fields to successfully connect different ABB technologies between Santiago and Salares Norte. Using satellite telematics, they carried out remote control and monitoring of smart electric motors and a simulation of telemedicine care between the two locations.

Salares Norte is expected to produce 3.7 million oz. of gold over an initial mine life of 11 years and has an estimated capex of US$834 million.

Learn more about ABB’s many solutions for the mining industry at

11 0