Three Cummins QSK60 engines, 60-litre V16s, have transformed the powerhouse on Groote Eylandt, home to a BHP Billiton manganese mine.
The powerhouse serves the mine, established in the mid-1960s by BHP’s Groote Eyland Mining Co (Gemco), and also the main town of Alyangula. Groote Eylandt is 50 km off the Arnhem Land coast in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Gemco initially looked at replacing its old generators with slow-speed diesels but then began to investigate new technology high-speed diesels such as the Cummins QSK60 which appeared to offer reduced operating costs.
The QSK60 was chosen after a comprehensive engine selection and tender process. It was confirmed during this process that the 60-litre Cummins, with its 1.2 MW continuous rating at 1500 rpm, could match the slow-speed diesels for fuel efficiency while providing overall cost advantages over other high-speed engines, including Caterpillar and MTU.
According to Gemco, the QSK60 has changed the lives of the crew on Groote Eylandt.
The new generating sets comprise QSK60-G3 engines coupled to Newage 3.3 Kv alternators. They were installed as a turn-key project by Cummins which included the complete electrical and mechanical installation.
The installation includes Cummins PowerCommand Control for paralleling, CBM cooling systems, Cummins Centinel oil burn system, all HV protection systems, and remote control of the power station through a Scada system.
Power generation personnel from both Cummins Perth and Cummins Darwin were involved in the project which presented some logistical challenges in getting the equipment from Adelaide to Darwin by road and then to Groote Eylandt, 200 km from Darwin, by barge.
Gemco’s Groote Eylandt mine produces around 1.5 million tons of manganese a year which is used by customers in Australia as well as being exported to Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. It is primarily used in the production of steel as a strengthening agent.