The entire world is filled with conveyor belts. Taken together a system conveyor rollers, these incredible pieces of technology usually go unnoticed and are underappreciated, but the entire world would be a completely different place without them. They are utilised for everything from moving heavy boxes around shipping warehouses to the essential element in food production processes.
Deep within the Western Sahara, in the middle of no other thing but dry wasteland, stands the earth’s largest conveyor belt system. It is so large actually, that it can be viewed from space. This huge structure extends over 61 kilometres and it is utilised to transport phosphate rock throughout the desert.
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The automatic conveyor belt system starts its trip at the Bou Craa Phosphate Mine. Phosphate is used as a crucial farming fertiliser and this Moroccan-handled territory has above 85% of the world’s current reserves. Phosphate is sought after around the globe and we consume around 40 million tonnes per year, so it is clear why such a big structure had to be created. The belt model is ST 2500 and is only 80cm wide but has a maximum transporting capacity of 2000 tonnes of raw phosphate rock per hour. The many conveyor rollers that comprise this system are very important to its smooth operation.
The Bou Craa phosphate mine has been discovered in The late 1940s by the Spanish. The phosphate deposit situated in the area have been unusually close to the surface and were definitely of really high purity, therefore it made it a great location to mine, though mining did not completely begin before the 1960’s. Since the beginning of operations, the mine continues to expand and today covers an incredible 1,225 hectares. The production in 2001 was 1.5 million metric tonnes of refined phosphate, an uncommonly sizeable percentage of the planet’s supply from a single mine.
The belt, which has been operating for longer than 30 years, ends its 61 kilometer voyage in the El Aain coast where the load is processed and shipped. The belt is not enclosed and with time, moving phosphate rock has been carried by the prevailing winds and kilometers of land south from the belt now appears completely white from space.
The Bou Craa conveyor belt has such an important role to play that if it ever failed, food costs around the world would significantly raise as supplies of phosphate fertiliser would come to be scarcer. Who would have thought a straightforward conveyor belt can be so tied to the worlds food? With only a small amount of overstatement, you could say that the conveyor rollers and belt contained within this system are what allows millions of people all over the world to eat.
The Bou Craa conveyor is actually a accomplishment of engineering and exceptional. It really is improbable that we will see another conveyor belt of similar proportions built in our lives.