Employed in nearly all kinds of industries, conveyor belts provide an excellent mean for moving cargo and materials from one place to another. In the mining industry, they are particularly useful because they allow mineral ores to be transported over rough terrain or difficult-to-access areas, and offer a cost-effective and reliable way of moving a constant stream of material that would otherwise have to be trucked from one location to the next. The high levels of productivity and low operating costs involved have led to a widespread adoption of belt conveyor systems. And because mines are typically located in remote areas, these conveyor belts stretches tens of kilometers. In fact, the mining industry owns some of the longest conveyor belts in the world designed to transport mineral ores from the mines to the refineries or ports or stockpile centers.
The world’s longest conveyor belt at 98km. Photo credit
The world’s longest conveyor belt is located in the Western Sahara. It is 98 km long and transports phosphate rocks from the mines of Bou Craa to the port city of El-Aaiun. From there, cargo vessels transport the phosphates to various countries, where they are utilized in fertilizer production. The belt is visible as a straight line in satellite photos, and at some places, easily recognizable by a white strip of phosphates that lay strewn across the dusty brown desert by the action of strong Saharan winds. This conveyor belt that connects Bou Craa with El Aaiún, can carry 2,000 metric tons of rock per hour.
A fair amount of phosphate is lost to the wind. Photo credit
In the state of Meghalaya in India lies the world’s longest single-belt international conveyor. It is about 17 km long and conveys limestone and shale at 960 tons/hour, from a quarry in India to a cement factory at Chhatak Bangladesh. The belt is 7 km long in India and 10 km long in Bangladesh. The entire conveyor has been put on trestles.