Electrical Business

Business News

ABB acquires ring motor business from Alstom

July 30, 2013 | By Anthony Capkun

July 30, 2013 – ABB has acquired Alstom’s ring motor business, saying the deal will enhance its gearless mill drive (GMD) system business. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Based in Bilbao, Spain, the business has about 120 employees and will become part of ABB’s Process Automation division. Regarding the deal, Alstom says it has decided to concentrate its Bilbao site on activities directly related to hydropower, thereby refocusing “on its core activities and be ready for further opportunities”. As part of the agreement with ABB, Alstom will relocate these activities to another site in Bilbao.

ABB explains GMD systems are used in the mining industry for processing large quantities of ore to extract metals such as copper, gold, platinum, iron and molybdenum. The market for these systems is expected to grow, adds the company, due to rising demand for minerals in emerging countries undergoing industrialization. Deeper mines with more complex ore bodies and lower ore grades require the grinding of increased amounts of material to yield the same volumes of metal. GMD systems are designed to address the need for extremely high ore throughput, reliability and availability of the grinding circuit, adds ABB.

“The acquisition will combine the leading ring motor product from Alstom with ABB’s electrical offering for GMD systems, enabling ABB to enhance its position as a strong vertically integrated systems provider,” said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s Process Automation division. “The acquired expertise and market strength will provide new opportunities for growth.”


The GMD eliminates all mechanical components of a conventional mill drive system, explains ABB; by mounting the rotor poles directly onto the mill, the mill itself becomes the rotor of the gearless motor. The gearless motor—also called wraparound or ring motor—is a very large synchronous machine that uses power electronics and a magnetic field to control the speed of the motor rotation. With no mechanical interaction between the stationary and rotating parts, there is a significant reduction in the amount of energy used, fewer parts and higher reliability, concludes ABB.

Photo 1: 22.5MW GMD system for a 38-ft autogenous grinding mill at Boliden Aitik mine, Sweden.

Photo 2: 22.4MW GMD system for a 40-ft semi-autogenous mill at Esperanza copper mine, Chile.

Photo 3: Antofagasta Minerals S.A. Esperanza copper mine, Chile.

Photo 4: Two 18.6MW GMD systems for 27-ft ball mills at Esperanza copper mine, Chile.

Photo 5: GMD at Esperanza copper mine, Antofagasta, Chile.

Print this page


Stories continue below