The World’s Largest Conveyors

Image credits: jbdodane/Flickr

By definition, conveyors are pieces of equipment that move materials or objects from one place to another place, from Point A to Point B. You’ll commonly find them in the likes of packaging plants, material handling facilities and auto shops – or really any place that requires the transportation of materials that are particularly large and heavy and would be otherwise difficult and inefficient to move by hand. But they’re found elsewhere around the world as well, which we’ll get to in a bit.

Conveyors are so widely used because of the many benefits they offer, such as:

  • The safe transportation of objects or materials.
  • They’re able to move materials and objects of all different shapes and sizes, so virtually everything is applicable.
  • They come in different varieties, and can be powered by many different means.
  • They can be easily and safely installed almost anywhere.

Focus on that last point for a moment – they can be installed almost anywhere. This is largely because they can be easily customized to adjust to the environment or setting that they need to be used in. On that note, it probably shouldn’t surprise you to learn that conveyors of all different sizes are out there, from the small to the very large. We decided it would be fun to take a look at the latter types of conveyors – the big ones. Just think of them as the largest of their kind in the world. Here’s a look.

The World’s Largest Conveyors

  • India: It’s hard to really pinpoint a location for this massive conveyor, so we’ll just say that it transports limestone from a crushing mine some 35 kilometers away to a Bangladesh cement shop in India. Once considered to be the longest conveyor belt of its time when commissioned in 2005, it is built on and supported by trestles. In addition to the belt running 35 kilometers in length, it is 800 millimeters wide. It’s also worth noting that there are no ends or transfers between both end pulleys. Bottom line – this puppy is a far cry from the conveyor belt that sends your goods down to the bagger at the grocery store.
  • Western Sahara: Said to be today’s largest conveyor belt system in the world, this one in the Western Sahara encompasses some 98 kilometers (or 61 miles) in length. Specifically, it was constructed to transport phosphate rocks from mines in Bou Craa to the port city of El-Aaiun, whether the product can then be exported around the world, mainly to be used as an ingredient in the likes of lawn and yard fertilizers. It’s said that this conveyor system can transport up to 2,000 metric tons of rock per hour. It’s visible from outer space, which goes to give you an indication of how massive it truly is. Also interesting to note is that the desert in the vicinity of the conveyor system also has a blue-colored tint to it from all the phosphate that has been blown off of the belt system by the wind over the years. The blue colored desert can also be seen from space.
  • Peru: It’s said to be the world’s largest pipe conveyor belt, and it rests in Peru – but this conveyor belt happens to be quite the engineering feat. You see, because Lima, Peru’s streets are more narrow than other streets around the rest of the world, the conveyor belt had to be designed and manufactured ever so carefully to conform to them. Today, it’s 16.4 kilometers long and works to bring cement clinker – and at a temperature of 80 degrees Celsius no less – from a cement plant down to the harbor where it can be exported. On its return trip, the belt brings coal and limestone back to the cement plant. The belt’s long stretch is about 8.2 kilometers long, about 6.5 kilometers of it which flows underneath the narrow streets of Lima. A pipe belt was the only way to accomplish the task at hand, notably because it can be built on rough terrain, maneuver tight corners with greater ease and minimize interaction between environment and material being shipped. What’s more is the ability to run this pipe conveyor belt underneath Lima’s streets means that shipping traffic can be reduced on ground level.
  • Andes Mountains: Although still big, this conveyor belt in the Chilean Andes is not the largest in the world. Instead, it holds the world record of being the steepest in the world, with an elevation of nearly 16,000 feet. Specifically, this belt services the Collahuasi mine complex in the mountain range, and building it to handle this type of steep terrain was a necessity in order to adequately transport the product.
  • Dublin, Ireland: Built in 1941, the conveyor belt that encompassed hills, valleys and roads in Dublin, Ireland was once the largest in the world. Although estimates varied on how big and how long the belt actually was, its purpose was clear – to deliver stones to the then-site of theShaster Dam during the time of its construction. The belt, fittingly, was removed following the construction of the dam.
  • Montalieu, France: Known as the largest conveyor belt in all of Europe, the 6.2 kilometer belt inMontalieu, France is designed to carry limestone from a quarry to a cement factory several kilometers away. The belt is powered by three electric motors and can move up to 1,000 tons of product at a time. The belt itself weighs 250 tons. The belt was initiated in November 2014 and is still active today.
  • Rockdale, Texas: At a coal mine in Rockdale, Texas, rests a 19-kilometer long conveyor belt that is designed to easily and efficiently transport coal from the mine to the city of Rockdale. Like several others on this list, parts of this conveyor belt are required to pass underneath the terrain or on very uneven terrain to get product to where it needs to go. The benefits of a belt like this for a purpose like this are its ability to supply coal around the clock – and to supply it affordably.

When you think of a conveyor belt, you might just think of a line that works inside an assembly plant or factory – not one that crosses deserts, flows underneath city streets or descends down from mountains. But these conveyor belts listed here just go to show you how flexible these systems are and what kind of potential they have. For more information on conveyor belts contact Bid on Equipment today.

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