The world is filled with conveyor belts. Taken together a system conveyor rollers, these remarkable components of engineering often go unnoticed and therefore are underappreciated, but the world might be a very different place without them. They are used for anything from transporting heavy boxes around shipping warehouses to a crucial element in food making operations.
Deep within the Western Sahara, surrounded by no other thing but barren wasteland, stands the world’s largest conveyor belt system. It’s so huge in fact, that it could be viewed from space. This huge structure extends over 61 miles and is used to carry phosphate rock throughout the desert.
The automated conveyor belt system starts its trip at the Bou Craa Phosphate Mine. Phosphate is utilised as a crucial agricultural fertiliser and this Moroccan-controlled territory has more than 85% of the planet’s current reserves. Phosphate is in high demand around the world and we use up around 40 million tonnes per year, so it is obvious why this kind of large structure needed to be built. The belt model is ST 2500 and it is only 80cm wide but features a maximum transporting capacity of Two thousand tonnes of crude phosphate rock per hour. The many conveyor rollers that make up this system are very important to the smooth operation.
The Bou Craa phosphate mine has been found in 1947 by the Spanish. The phosphate deposits found in the area were uncommonly near to the surface and were of really high purity, so it made it a great place to mine, although mining didn’t completely begin until the 1960’s. Since the beginning of operations, the mine has continued to expand and now covers an incredible 1,225 hectares. The output in 2001 was 1.5 million metric tonnes of processed phosphate, an abnormally big proportion of the world’s supply from a single mine.
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The belt, that has been functioning for over three decades, finishes its 61 kilometre journey at the El Aain shoreline where its load is refined and distributed. The belt is not enclosed and as time passes, drifting phosphate rock has been transported by the prevailing wind and kilometres of land south of the belt now appears completely white from space.
The Bou Craa conveyor belt has such a vital role to play that in case it ever failed, food costs worldwide would substantially raise as supplies of phosphate fertiliser would come to be scarcer. Who’d have believed a simple conveyor belt can be so fixed in to the worlds food? With a small amount of exaggeration, you might say that the conveyor rollers and belt contained in this system are what allows millions of people around the world to eat.
The Bou Craa conveyor is actually a accomplishment of engineering and exceptional. It really is improbable that we’ll see one more conveyor belt of similar dimensions built in our lives.