Chilean giant goes deep underground


In 2013, Nexans Chile was challenged to manufacture the largest cable ever made in Chile to energize a new level of the world’s biggest underground copper mine: El Teniente. The result was a 35 kV halogen-free, double-armored cable 117 mm in diameter, weighing 32k/m, and 36 km long!

Breaking good

The requested size was not simple to manufacture, even though expertise had been long acquired for smaller cables with similar characteristics. The team revamped everything from process and engineering to production and delivery, breaking internal paradigms and traditional thinking.

Thinking big

The clue to success was assembling a team with vision to see possibilities and courage to make changes. They needed to enlarge the extruder to accommodate the bigger size, and strengthen machines to handle increased process stress. Special 1-ton reels were designed which were three meters in diameter with a capacity of 12 tons. This necessitated special handling and safety procedures. The plant’s layout was even modified to house the reels. Quality control adapted electrical testing and developed a new system for other products, leaving the old system obsolete.

New benchmark

Power supply is critical for mining because the right power cable allows the proper functioning of certain critical systems in underground operation, such as ventilation and extraction equipment. Since the El Teniente “new mine level project” aims at going deeper to extend mine life from 2028 to 2064 via remote technology to reduce worker exposure and improve quality of life, the technical soundness of our cable is essential for reliable operation. It will be installed in early 2014 and will soon become a benchmark for future underground mining projects.