The world is filled with conveyor belts. Pulled along a system conveyor rollers, these amazing pieces of technological innovation often go unnoticed and therefore are underappreciated, but the entire world would be a very different place without them. They are utilised for anything from moving heavy cases around shipping warehouses to a crucial element in food production operations.
Deep within the Western Sahara, in the middle of nothing else but dry wasteland, stands the world’s largest conveyor belt system. It is so huge actually, that it could be seen from space. This huge construction stretches over 61 kilometres and is utilised to transport phosphate stone over the desert.
The automated conveyor belt system starts its trip at the Bou Craa Phosphate Mine. Phosphate is used as a crucial agricultural fertiliser and this Moroccan-managed territory has around 85% of the planet’s current reserves. Phosphate is sought after around the globe and we all consume about 40 million tonnes per year, so it’s clear why this kind of large structure needed to be created. The belt model is ST 2500 and it is only 80cm broad but features a peak transporting capacity of Two thousand tonnes of crude phosphate stone per hour. The many conveyor rollers that comprise this system are crucial to its easy operation.
The Bou Craa phosphate mine was found in The late 1940s by the Spanish. The phosphate deposit found in the area were unusually close to the surface and were definitely of particularly high purity, therefore it made it a perfect location to mine, though mining didn’t entirely begin before the 1960’s. Since the commencement of operations, the mine has continued to expand and today covers a staggering 1,225 hectares. Its output in 2001 was 1.5 million metric tonnes of processed phosphate, an uncommonly sizeable proportion of the planet’s supply from a single mine.
The belt, which is operating for more than 30 years, ends its 61 mile voyage in the El Aain shoreline where its load is refined and distributed. The belt is not enclosed and with time, moving phosphate rock continues to be transported by the prevailing wind and kilometres of land south from the belt now looks entirely white from outer-space.
The Bou Craa conveyor belt has such a vital role to play that in case it ever failed, food prices around the globe would significantly increase as supplies of phosphate fertiliser would become scarcer. Who would have imagined a simple conveyor belt can be so tied in to the worlds food? With a modest amount of overstatement, you could claim that the conveyor rollers and belt contained in this system are what enables billions of men and women around the world to eat.
The Bou Craa conveyor is a accomplishment of engineering and exceptional. It is improbable that we’ll see one more conveyor belt of comparable proportions made in our lives.
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