The entire world is full of conveyor belts. Pulled together a system conveyor rollers, these amazing pieces of technology usually go unnoticed and therefore are underappreciated, but the entire world would have been a very different place without them. They are used for everything from moving heavy containers around shipping warehouses to the crucial element in food making operations.
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Deep inside the Western Sahara, surrounded by no other thing but barren desert, stands the world’s largest conveyor belt system. It’s so big actually, that it can be viewed from space. This huge framework expands over 61 kilometres and is used to carry phosphate rock over the desert.
The automatic conveyor belt system begins its journey at the Bou Craa Phosphate Mine. Phosphate is utilised as a vital farming fertiliser and this Moroccan-managed territory has over 85% of the world’s current reserves. Phosphate is in demand worldwide and we use up around 40 million tonnes per year, so it’s obvious why this kind of huge structure had to be constructed. The belt type is ST 2500 and is only 80cm wide but has a maximum transporting capacity of Two thousand tonnes of crude phosphate rock an hour. The numerous conveyor rollers that comprise this system are essential to the smooth operation.
The Bou Craa phosphate mine has been discovered in 1947 by the Spanish. The phosphate deposit situated in the area were actually uncommonly near to the surface and were of particularly high purity, so it made it an excellent spot to mine, despite the fact that mining didn’t fully begin until the 1960’s. Since the commencement of operations, the mine continues to expand and today covers an incredible 1,225 hectares. Its production in 2001 was 1.5 million metric tonnes of processed phosphate, an unusually big proportion of the world’s supply from a single mine.
The belt, which is working for longer than 3 decades, finishes its 61 kilometer voyage at the El Aain coast where its load is refined and shipped. The belt is not encased and as time passes, drifting phosphate rock has been carried by the prevailing winds and kilometers of land south of the belt now appears 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 worldwide would substantially increase as supplies of phosphate fertiliser would become scarcer. Who would have believed a straightforward conveyor belt can be so fixed to the worlds food supply? With only a modest amount of exaggeration, you might claim that the conveyor rollers and belt contained in this particular system are what enables millions of people all over the world to eat.
The Bou Craa conveyor is a feat of technology and extraordinary. It really is improbable that we’ll see another conveyor belt of comparable proportions made in our lives.