The Sustainable Underground Mining (SUM) project is LKAB’s move to develop the mining methods of the future, allowing it access even deeper iron ore deposits at in Kiruna and Malmberget from 2030 and beyond. The focus for technology testing is Konsuln, located in the southern part of Kiirunavaara – effectively a small. almost separate, section of the Kiruna mine. Konsuln currently produces approximately 0.8 Mt of iron ore annually. as well as functioning as a test zone for the SUM project.
Within the framework of SUM, the expert drilling team at contractor Bergteamet has been commissioned to operate the new Epiroc Easer L rig at Konsuln. The Easer L is a mobile raiseboring machine for medium to large size drifts that has previously been used in Australia, but this is the first time it will have been used in northern latitudes. The Epiroc Easer L is a versatile and powerful rig that can drill at multiple angles and not just straight up, but also straight down and sideways.
The Bergteamet team is managing the rig with four operators working in shifts. Bergteamet employees are used to drilling with other types of rigs from Epiroc and they are looking forward to running a brand new machine and being trained on how to work with it, says Mats Johansson, Bergteamet Site Manager for Kiruna.
LKAB said last year that the drill rig will initially be used at level 436 in the Konsuln mine, which is the first level that has an increased sublevel height – of a total of 40 m. With an increased sublevel height, LKAB has to be able to drill longer opening holes than its existing rigs can handle. A number of different tests will be carried out to check LKAB’s quality and productivity requirements. Only after an acceptance test has been performed will a decision be made on whether Easer L can be used in production at Konsuln.