A Feat of Engineering

Motorised Rollers

The entire world is filled with conveyor belts. Pulled along a system conveyor rollers, these incredible components of technology usually go unnoticed and they are underappreciated, but the world would have been a very different place without them. They are utilised for everything from transporting heavy containers around shipping warehouses to a crucial element in food making operations.

Deep inside the Western Sahara, surrounded by nothing else but unwelcoming desert, stands the world’s greatest conveyor belt system. It’s so huge actually, that it can be viewed from space. This huge construction stretches over 61 kilometers and is used to carry phosphate rock through the desert.

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The automated conveyor belt system begins its trip at the Bou Craa Phosphate Mine. Phosphate is utilised as a crucial agricultural fertiliser and this Moroccan-managed territory has around 85% of the world’s current reserves. Phosphate is in high demand around the world and we consume about Forty million tonnes each year, therefore it is obvious why this kind of big structure needed to be created. The belt type is ST 2500 and is only 80cm broad but features a maximum transporting capacity of 2000 tonnes of crude phosphate rock an hour. The many conveyor rollers that comprise this system are essential to its easy functioning.

The Bou Craa phosphate mine has been discovered in 1947 by the Spanish. The phosphate deposit situated in the area were actually unusually close to the surface and were of really high purity, therefore it made it a great location to mine, although mining didn’t fully begin until the 1960’s. Since the start of operations, the mine continues to expand and now covers an incredible 1,225 hectares. Its output in 2001 was 1.5 million metric tonnes of processed phosphate, an abnormally large proportion of the planet’s supply from a single mine.

The belt, which has been operating for more than 3 decades, finishes its 61 mile voyage in the El Aain coast where the load is processed and shipped. The belt isn’t enclosed and over time, moving phosphate rock continues to be carried by the prevailing winds and kilometres of land south from the belt now appears totally white from outerspace.


The Bou Craa conveyor belt has such an important role to play that in case it ever failed, food prices around the globe would substantially raise as stocks of phosphate fertiliser would come to be scarcer. Who would have believed a straightforward conveyor belt can be so tied to the worlds food supply? With only a modest amount of overstatement, you might claim that the conveyor rollers and belt contained within this system are what allows billions of men and women all over the world to eat.

The Bou Craa conveyor is really a accomplishment of engineering and exceptional. It really is improbable that we’ll see one more conveyor belt of comparable dimensions made in our lifetimes.