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2 May 2011

In a development designed to significantly increase total annual gold production from 700,000 to 1 million ounces per annum, Lihir Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea is currently undertaking a major upgrade. The Million Ounce Plant Upgrade – also known as MOPU, has adopted a staged approach to its construction schedule that after beginning in May of 2008 is set for completion in 2012, upon which its work will ultimately extend the overall life of the mining operation.

Involving a major process plant expansion, several MCC manufacturers tendered for the important project that required the installation of an additional autoclave with double the capacity of each of the three existing autoclaves at the site. With the development of extra crushing, grinding, thickening, oxygen and leach plant facilities, the result will see grinding capacity of the plant increase from around 6 Mtpa (Metric Tonnes Per Annum) to approximately 11-12 Mtpa.

The contract for the low voltage equipment to be provided for MOPU included the supply of 16 low voltage transportable switchrooms as well as 22 motor control centres to supply over 460 new drives, and was awarded to Plummers Industries (Brisbane), with the specification of NHP low voltage equipment.

“At Plummers we were mainly involved with the supply of motor control centres and switch rooms as complete units, which was a large scale operation that required us to purchase a block of land next door so we could house the equipment for this project. Our working relationship with NHP has always been good and that’s why we knew we could rely on them for this particular project - as we have on many occasions before”, said Peter Filler, Queensland Sales Manager, Plummers Industries.

Teaming with Plummers to meet this project schedule, NHP supplied Plummers with the individual components for the switchboards and MCCs which were jointly designed by Ian Schuh from Lihir Gold and John Smith, Lead Electrical Engineer from BEC Engineering. Components included Terasaki ACBs, MCCBs and DIN breakers, Sprecher + Schuh Motor Control, CEP7 and CET 5 Overloads, Aucom Soft Starters and Rockwell Automation equipment.

“The trend these days is for switchboard builders to supply the total solution to particular projects including the switch rooms - particularly in remote sites where it is more economical than sending labour to the site itself”, said John Kirkland, NHP’s Business Development Manager - Industrial Sector.

Having worked with NHP and their extended catalogue of products on previous projects including the Sepon Copper Project as well as Laos and the Hidden Valley Gold Project (PNG), Smith and the team at BEC Engineering knew exactly what to expect when working with NHP.

“The staff at NHP are always accessible and they keep customers informed of product updates which is a real advantage. Although BEC do not deal directly with NHP except for when a technical engineering solution is required, when we do, we know we can rely on them to provide us with the right solution”, said John Smith.

“For example when we encountered the issue of matching the soft stater to the starting load and torque requirements of the motors, NHP were able to provide a solution to soft starting of the 2 x 200kW Jaw Crusher drives and the 2 x 315kW Pebble Crusher drives, which helped overcome this”, Smith continued.

This project highlights the potential for companies – when using the right help, to build large scale projects of this type in Australia.

NHP are proud to be involved with this landmark project and look forward to embarking on similar developments of this kind in the future.

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