Engineering & Mining Journal

OCT 2018

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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NORDIC MINING 2018 30 E&MJ • OCTOBER 2018 The 2018 Euro Mine Expo shed a lot of insight into what's happening mining-wise in the Nordic region. And, there is a lot happening for a rather small collection of mines. The region has the right mix, min- ing companies looking everywhere for in- novation, a culture that was one of the first to embrace the carbon-free challenge, and some high-quality mineral deposits. The event took place during mid-June in Skellefteå, Sweden, which is famous geologically for gold-bearing ores. Many mining executives as well as midlevel managers turned up for the event and gave presentations talking about the great things their companies were doing. While Skellefteå still has several modern gold mining operations nearby, it draws more attention today as the site for the North- volt battery factory, which seemed to fit perfectly with most of the discussions. When it comes to mining in Scandi- navia, there is more than just Sweden. Across the bay, Finland is also a hot- bed of mining activity these days. During the summer, several new projects were commissioned. Boliden Opens its Doors for R&D Boliden's Mikael Staffas made his first public appearance as the new president and CEO during Euro Mine Expo 2018. He joined the company in 2011, first serving as CFO before accepting the po- sition of director of business area mines in 2015. Staffas pointed out that the demand for base metals will remain high. "Many people think we are only in this business to generate profit for sharehold- ers and to provide jobs, but the main rea- son we exist is to produce base metals, which are needed for many aspects of life," Staffas said. "That is also why there is a demand." He believes the answer to the climate challenge is not to mine less, but to mine more base metals. According to him, Bo- liden's copper value-chain Aitik-Rönnskär is the one that produces the lowest-carbon dioxide per pound of copper in the world. Staffas presented figures that showed the effectiveness of Boliden's mining op- erations. A major part of this productivity improvement has been achieved through the use of new technologies, developed by opening up their research and development facilities to other companies. As an exam- ple, the company's Kankberg mine now has 5G cellular service at the face underground provided by Ericsson. Data and communi- cation networks have eliminated foremen. Miners equipped with tablets can make the decisions. Tracking systems show the loca- tion of each miner underground so they no longer need to travel in pairs for safety. On the surface, Boliden launched a pi- lot project for the electrification of in-pit haulage at Aitik, Sweden's largest open-pit copper mine, together with key partners. The project consists of a 700-m trolley assist system, where four trucks are con- nected to a pantograph. This project could save 800 m 3 of diesel each year. For the two-year project, Boliden joined forces with Eitech and ABB to supply electrical infrastructure; Pon Equipment and Cat for truck modifications; and Chalmers Univer- sity with supporting research on system as- pects of the electrification. The project is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency. While truck-trolley systems are not new, they have not operated in this cli- mate or with the size of the trucks Aitik operates, explained Rikard Mäki, Bo- liden's project manager for the R&D. "To prove the technology in this climate with the size of vehicles we operate, it is criti- cal to establish partnerships," Mäki said. Boliden also announced its plans to invest SEK 750 million ($83 million) in a leaching plant at Rönnskär, which follows an ongoing investment of SEK 650 million ($72 million) in a deep re- pository for the smelter. Provided that the environmental permits for the pro- jects are granted in a timely fashion, the repository and the plant are expected to be operational by the end of 2020. The leaching plant will extract more of the remaining metal from waste at the site. It should also reduce the amount of waste for disposal in deep repository. The leach- ing project should produce 25,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) of lead sulphate and 25,000 mt/y of copper/zinc sulphate. LKAB Sets Sustainable Goals After Euro Mine Expo at the end of June, LKAB discussed its plans for the mine of the future, which will be carbon-free, digitalized and autonomous. To set a new world standard for sustainable mining at great depth, the company partnered with ABB, Epiroc Combitech and Volvo to cre- ate a testbed in northern Sweden. The testbed, SUM, Sustainable Un- derground Mining, will be created in LKAB's underground mines in Kiruna and Malmberget and will also take the form of a virtual mine. Here, new tech- Mining Thrives in Scandinavia Walking the carbon-free talk, Swedish majors partner with suppliers By Steve Fiscor, Editor Boliden partnered with five companies to evaluate the electrification of haulage at its Aitik mine.

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