A reliable grid can move mountains

Buenavista del Cobre in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico
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Uncover buried potential with Siemens control technology in an industrial microgrid   Using a custom-configured Siemens control system, the Buenavista del Cobre copper mine of Grupo México was able to achieve a 60% reduction in down time and significant cost savings.

Grids are growing smarter. To keep up, the Buenavista del Cobre copper mine in Mexico was faced with a challenge: find a way to automate data acquisition and create a more proactive maintenance approach without halting operations for any reason. Any error during construction, point-to-point testing or commissioning of the system had to be avoided. And all of this had to be done while adhering to the “Zero Harm” culture of the highly safety conscious Buenavista del Cobre mining complex.


A further challenge was the timeline: all work had to be completed within the scope of the annual major maintenance shutdown, scheduled for October 2015, and prior to the first maneuver to be performed by the new distributed control center (DCC). Final monitoring of production-related energy consumption had to be implemented by December 2015, giving the team just two months to execute all construction and monitoring activities.


The Siemens answer was to construct the new state-of-the-art DCC, integrating the Spectrum Power™ grid control platform, which would help the mine to achieve a 60% reduction in down time and significant cost savings.

While the primary goal was to reduce the occurrence of operating errors and major maintenance outages, in turn reducing maintenance costs, decreased risks for personnel was also a priority, from day one. The complete solution came from a single source and was custom designed by Siemens to perfectly fit within the designated DCC space. It included the energy backup, a data network (with four compact RTUs SICAM combined with Ruggedcom 1500 APC communication devices), installation of Spectrum Power™ 5, and the configuration of Buenavista del Cobre’s substation control systems using SICAM PAS technology.


The control system, with the Spectrum Power™ grid control platform at its core, helped to achieve considerable improvements from the date of commissioning by increasing transparency, raising the overall competitiveness of the mine. In addition to a 60% reduction in downtime, a 50% reduction in costs was achieved as a result of the automated consumption reports, generated in real time with just a few clicks of the mouse, and improved maintenance scheduling. The mine’s operational risk for technical personnel was also decreased significantly.

Ultimately, the central generation of reports allowed mine personnel to devote themselves to more productive work and tasks, new technical capacities, or to creating effective new cost reduction alternatives and activities to increase energy efficiency. And simplified standardization now allows personnel to easily assess the quality of the energy delivered by the Federal Electricity Commission. Lastly, the scalability of Spectrum Power™ means that there is room to grow, providing expansion capacity for medium voltage and other processes.


These improvements, together with the initiatives that they are inspiring, place Grupo México’s Buenavista del Cobre well on the path to intelligent mining.