Jamaica - 2011
Jamaica Bauxite Conveyor Eliminates Emissions, Generates Green Energy
A mid-air rope conveyer used instead of trucks to transport bauxite from a hillside mine in Jamaica eliminates an estimated 160,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually, generates green electricity through its braking mechanism, and minimizes disruption to the local landscape and surrounding communities.
Constructed in 2008, the 3.4-kilometer-long (2.1mile-long) conveyor is owned and operated by Jamalco, Alcoa’s Jamaican bauxite mining and refining operations. The conveyor transports an average of 3.2 million metric tons of bauxite annually from the Jamalco mine on the South Manchester Plateau to a railhead below. The bauxite is then conveyed by train to the nearby refinery.
The conveyor consists of a belt with corrugated side walls and integrated wheel sets running on fixed track ropes over 11 tower structures. As loaded bauxite begins its descent, the conveyor starts operating in continuous braking mode. The quantity of energy generated from this braking is proportional to the weight of the load, with the system generating an average of 1,200 kilowatts per hour (enough energy to provide for the needs of six average Jamaican households). Some of this green energy is used to power the mine facility, and the rest is sold to the national light and power company.
Transporting the bauxite by conveyor eliminates the need for 1,200 truck journeys a day between the mine and railhead. Also eliminated are the associated CO2 emissions, noise, and fine dust.
The conveyor itself is virtually noise free and does not emit any dust, minimizing the impact to the surrounding communities. In addition, there are no lasting effects on the local landscape, as vegetation has returned around the tower structures and system maintenance activities are carried out with the use of a small ski lift that operates on the conveyor itself.