Tag Archives: ABB

ABB agrees to divest Dodge mechanical power transmission division to RBC Bearings Inc

ABB has signed a definitive agreement to divest its Mechanical Power Transmission division (Dodge) to RBC Bearings Incorporated for $2.9 billion in cash.

The transaction will create a leading manufacturer of highly engineered, performance-critical bearings and motion control components serving the aerospace, defence and industrial markets.

For more than 140 years, the Dodge business has been a leader in the design, production, and marketing of mounted bearings, enclosed gearing and power transmission components. It offers one of the broadest portfolios of mechanical power transmission products in the market, selling to industries including surface mining. It has roughly 1,500 employees worldwide and achieved revenues of approximately $600 million for the last 12 months ending June 30, 2021.

It produces at six manufacturing sites – five in the US and one in China – and its headquarters is located in Greenville, South Carolina.

“We are delighted that Dodge has found an excellent new home with RBC Bearings, where it can continue its exciting growth story,” ABB CEO, Björn Rosengren, said. “This transaction further strengthens ABB’s balance sheet. In line with our capital allocation priorities, we plan to first use the proceeds from the transaction to fund organic growth, pay a rising sustainable dividend per share and make value-creating acquisitions. Furthermore, we will give an update on our plans for the Turbocharging exit and possible listing of our E-Mobility division in due course.”

RBC Bearings Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Michael J Hartnett, said: “The combination will enhance RBC Bearings’ capabilities, footprint, and customer access while increasing our exposure to Dodge’s attractive end markets. Our businesses are highly complementary, with Dodge bringing new offerings, new end markets, and more scale to the combined organisation. The combined company will have an attractive position in the aerospace, defence and industrial markets with a diversified client base and expansive geographic footprint.”

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the year 2021, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory review.

Nordic Iron Ore plotting entry into steel’s circular economy at Blötberget

With the world’s first hydrogen-reduced sponge iron having just been produced, most of the globe’s iron and steel companies are evaluating how they can continue to play a role in the steel-making industry of the future.

The HYBRIT project milestone in Sweden has global ramifications for a sector that is among the three biggest producers of carbon dioxide, according to McKinsey. Incorporation of fossil-free technology to produce ‘green iron’ that can lead onto ‘green steel’ is viewed as one of the ways the sector can clean up its act and stay relevant in a society that is increasingly focused on greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability.

Nordic Iron Ore, the owner of the Blötberget iron ore project in the Bergslagen mining region of Sweden, is one of a few companies blessed with the potential to produce higher-grade magnetite that could fit into this brave new steel-making world.

Paul Marsden, Technical and Marketing Advisor for Nordic Iron Ore, explains: “There is a lot of investment interest in Sweden and elsewhere for projects associated with these goals. We’re looking at how our place in that might work, but, as we have demonstrated that we can make products in excess of 71% Fe, I would suggest that we can definitely fit the bill.”

It is not only the grade of iron Nordic Iron Ore intends to produce that is in its favour in this regard; the asset it intends to extract ore from is a past producer, having last closed up shop in 1979.

The old headframe in Blötberget

The most recent estimates state that the company could produce upwards of 4 Mt/y of high-quality iron ore at full tilt from an underground operation. The initial development, Blötberget, is planned as an underground post pillar cut and fill (PPCF) mine using backfill to reduce surface impact and maintain the high-grade of the run-of-mine ore after extraction. Construction is envisaged to take around two years, with an aim to use as much of the project’s magnetite resources as possible.

“At the moment, we’re still going to be a niche producer with low tonnages,” Marsden told IM. “Phase one is likely to start at around 1.65 Mt/y, but phase two and three could get us up to 4-5 Mt/y of high-quality products.

“At the same time, we see ourselves fitting into a changing European steel scene where you have got to be looking at lower carbon output, higher productivity per unit and a move into pelletising or DRI (sponge iron) as a high priority.”

How the company will do this is still to be confirmed, but some of the recent agreements Nordic Iron Ore has signed indicate there is intent behind the ambitions.

It has enlisted the help of Paterson & Cooke to evaluate alternatives for its waste management process (fine tailings were previously anticipated to be deposited in an existing tailing dam) that “significantly reduces the environmental impact of the mining operations but is also attractive from an economic standpoint”.

It has enlisted the help of Sweden-based VB Energi to supply electricity to the site from renewable sources.

Nordic Iron Ore took part in the Smart Exploration project, an EU-funded collaboration between universities and companies from eleven countries. One of the project’s aims was to develop environmentally-friendly methods of geophysical exploration, with Smart Exploration teams conducting several evaluations at Ludvika Mines (part of the Blötberget project) using prototype equipment producing more accurate measurements primarily in the fields of seismology and electromagnetics

It has also signed an MoU with Epiroc Sweden, with the two companies cooperating on the mining project development.

Nordic Iron Ore’s CEO, Lennart Eliasson, said this OEM partnership, in particular, was important to the company’s aims of operating a modern mine able to deploy the latest technologies for high productivity and safety, and long-term sustainability.

Marsden provided a bit more background on this agreement: “The definitive feasibility study we had previously completed with Golder Group by the end of 2019 was what you would consider a ‘traditional mine’ – it included diesel-powered loading and haulage with operators. It wasn’t really what we were aiming for, but it gave us an economic study to go to market with.

“We have since had conversations with the likes of Epiroc, ABB and others at the forefront of pushing new technologies like automation, electrification and digitalisation. They are interested in producing a ‘showcase mine’ for Sweden.”

Marsden says there is potential for leveraging the technology learnings on projects such as LKAB’s Kiruna and Konsuln mines, Boliden’s underground operations and Lundin Mining’s Zinkgruvan operation to make Blötberget “future ready”.

He added: “We cannot automate and electrify it all from the off, but we can lay the groundwork to eventually automate and electrify just about everything in the mine.”

What the company needs now is backing from investors to solidify its plan for Blötberget.

Some $8-10 million should allow the company to assess improvements – the potential to access old resources close to a planned underground decline, earlier revenue generators such as toll treatment of high-grade concentrate, and right-sizing the process flowsheet – and bolster the team to see it through mine construction.

After that, it will be a matter of aligning with offtake partners intent on sustainable steel production with a premium iron ore concentrate that suits the industry’s ‘green’ sentiment.

ABB further boosts mine hoist safety with Ability Performance Optimization

ABB has launched a new version of its ABB Ability™ Performance Optimization solution for hoists, providing, it says, agile and secure remote support worldwide.

The digital service, harnessing data monitoring of key performance indicators (KPIs) enabled by specialised cloud-based edge computing, will further minimise risk of hoist failure, improve uptime and provide predictive maintenance insights and remote support to underground mine operators, ABB says.

Hosted on the ABB Ability Edgenius Dashboard application, the soluiton enables quick analysis and insights into any plant operation, according to the company.

The dashboards have been created to show crucial information from the hoists with KPIs organised into the categories of performance, supervision and safety, which resulted from collaboration between customers and ABB experts. Additionally, the solution platform is more flexible, scalable and fulfils the highest levels of cybersecurity.

Predictive analysis of a mine hoist’s condition prevents operations from unexpected, time-consuming and costly shutdowns, ABB says.

“Using ABB Ability Performance Optimization for hoists, ABB’s mining customers can work towards condition-based monitoring,” it added. “Data is automatically collected, segregated and managed, then securely monitored and analysed to generate actionable insights that can increase production performance, identify safety hazards and provide optimised maintenance scheduling.”

The Performance Optimization service connects the customers’ mine hoists enterprise-wide with experts located remotely in ABB’s Collaborative Operations Centers, or on site. Mine hoists are monitored 24/7 so potential problems are identified before they occur, and necessary actions can be made at the right time. This improves the availability of the equipment and the overall safety of mining operations, according to the company.

With immediate availability to existing customers, the new ABB Ability Edgenius Dashboard cloud-based solution forms part of a digitalised way of working with reports and increases transparency. The dashboards are available and secured within the ABB Ability cloud. Customers can follow ABB actions as they happen, collaborate and learn more closely, but also remotely, the company says. This reduces the requirement for in-person maintenance visits and travel, saving time and lowering ABB’s carbon footprint.

“What we have done is create a cyber-secure bridge between the information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) elements of our mine hoist customers’ businesses,” said Bengt Hedlund, Global Service Manager Hoisting at ABB. “This is how we are progressing across our customer base and it is creating more connected infrastructure, more collaborative relationships and greater transparency in terms of real-time data reporting and actions.

“We can set KPIs with customers and monitor progress. If something does not fit in the hoisting process and it is not performing to the optimum levels expected we can make changes quickly.”

ABB Ability Performance Optimization for hoists improves accessibility, performance and productivity for mine hoists by collecting and analysing data from various operating points, and KPIs such as the mine hoist’s cycle time, filling and dumping time, as well as safety brake system and supervision of the hoist protections. The results can also be used as a basis for optimising the hoist’s availability, which provides the opportunity to increase production.

ABB recently launched ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists, a suite of mine hoist safety products that brings the highest level of personnel and equipment safety available to the mining industry.

ABB says it offers safe, optimised and fit-for-purpose hoisting solutions designed by mining engineering teams, and has almost 130 years of experience in hoisting with more than 1,000 hoisting solutions installed worldwide. Digitally connected with ABB Ability Performance Optimization for hoists, ABB hoisting solutions provides highest availability and productivity.

ABB ready to demonstrate electrical and automation advances at SUM project

ABB electrification and automation knowledge and solutions are being employed at LKAB’s Sustainable Underground Mining (SUM) project, as the project partners strive towards demonstrating the possibility of developing a mine with zero carbon dioxide emissions and relative productivity increases of 50%.

The company has provided electrification, connected control and operations management systems, high-visualisation and mobile operator workplaces as part of this project, which also involves Combitech, Epiroc and Sandvik. It is now looking to connect electrical and automation systems that have so far been developed and leverage these in a demonstration workshop as part of the project’s next phase.

Devised by LKAB, the SUM project has the goal of setting a new world standard for sustainable mining at great depths. The framework outlines ambitions for zero carbon dioxide emissions, completely safe mines for humans, productivity increases of 50% and deeper mining.

ABB will continue to contribute its deep knowledge in electrification, automation and workplaces together with other suppliers to the mining industry, it said.

Test work in LKAB’s Kiruna mine, northern Sweden, as well as a virtual test mine will study the best way to build a carbon dioxide free and autonomous production system.

“Within the mine, the Konsuln orebody is used to demonstrate future workplaces in a decentralised environment with efficient use of an autonomous electrical mobile transport system in a mixed environment,” ABB said. “Real-time process information is available to all organisations involved. When combined with the wider efforts of the SUM partnership, this shows a way of bringing completely new technology solutions to market for safer, more sustainable and more efficient mining production processes.”

Jan Nyqvist, Global Product Manager for Underground Mining Automation at ABB, and one of the leaders in the project, said: “We are taking significant strides towards a vision of the future operator environment through smarter working and demonstrable results. Electrification and automation are two important factors for the mining industry to continue its rapid, but effective, modernisation. Sharing of information and data is crucial to reach substantial end goals.”

He added: “It is becoming increasingly common for suppliers to create dedicated collaboration groups to reach the best possible solutions for their customers. Collective successes and progress and the meeting of key targets for SUM, are initial evidence of the mutual benefits of collaboration.”

ABB has a relatively large team committing time to the project, with experts in digitalisation and research, as well as electrification and automation.

“ABB is integral to the next step, which is to build a demonstration workshop to connect electrical and automation systems that have so far been developed for this challenging project,” Nyqvist said. “We will, through various developed scenarios, be able to show how the systems work together.”

By 2022, the ABB electrification and automation solutions will be fully installed, and the aim is that a new standard for mining production will be displayed at the project by 2030.

Roy Hill backs interoperability developments with ERDi TestLab membership

Iron ore miner Roy Hill has become the latest member of the University of Western Australia’s (UWA) Energy & Resources Digital Interoperability Industry 4.0 (ERDi i4.0) TestLab.

Roy Hill is committed to the development of interoperability within the resources industry and recently appointed Michael Waller to a new role – Interoperability Manager – to lead the company’s strategy and engagement, according to the TestLab.

In the few short weeks since Michael’s appointment, Roy Hill’s interoperability approach has progressed at a rapid rate, with Waller spearheading the establishment of a collaborative interoperability project within the TestLab, it added.

This new project will be sponsored by ERDi TestLab founding partner METS Ignited, and centres around interoperability in the mobile equipment execution management and control technology space across both manual and automated equipment, it said.

“We are thrilled to be working with Roy Hill and the other participants on this exciting project, more details of which will be announced soon,” it added.

Roy Hill’s interoperability streak was made clear earlier this year when it signed an agreement with Epiroc and ASI Mining to deliver a fully automated solution for the iron ore mining operation’s mixed fleet of 77 haul trucks.

Other companies to recently sign up to the TestLab include Trevali, RPMGlobal and ABB.

ABB to help deliver Talga’s vertically integrated lithium-ion battery anode plan

Talga Group says it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ABB to support the development and construction of its Vittangi Anode project, in northern Sweden.

Talga is constructing a scalable battery anode production facility and integrated graphite mining operation in northern Sweden, using 100% renewable electricity to supply ultra-low emission coated anode for, it says, greener lithium-ion batteries. The anode refinery is expected to commence production in 2023.

Under the MoU, ABB will use its industrial automation and electrification expertise to develop and co-ordinate an extensive suite of production control and process solutions for Talga’s vertically integrated lithium-ion battery anode operations.

In addition, ABB will work together with Talga and its partners to provide engineering support for the Vittangi Anode project definitive feasibility study, due for completion March 2021, with the intent to execute binding agreements for construction and operations in future.

Talga, Mitsui and LKAB recently signed a Letter of Intent that could see the three jointly develop the project.

Talga Managing Director, Mark Thompson, said: “ABB is at the forefront of industrial automation and electrification, and we are very pleased to have their support as we continue to execute on our plan to build Europe’s largest Li-ion battery anode production facility for more sustainable batteries.”

Björn Jonsson, Hub Division Manager North Europe, Process Industries, ABB, said: “Supporting the development of Talga’s Vittangi Anode project provides us with an additional opportunity to showcase ABB’s leadership in industrial automation and smart electrification, applied towards construction of key operations for the emerging European battery supply chain.

“This is another milestone for us and our customers in our aim for more sustainable operations and a fossil fuel free society.”

LKAB plots carbon-free pathway with direct reduced iron switch

LKAB has presented its new strategy for the future, setting out a path to achieve net-zero carbon emissions from its own processes and products by 2045, while securing the company’s operations with expanded mining beyond 2060.

Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB, said the plan represented the biggest transformation in the company’s 130-year history, and could end up being the largest industrial investment ever made in Sweden.

“It creates unique opportunities to reduce the world’s carbon emissions and for Swedish industry to take the lead in a necessary global transformation,” he said.

The strategy sets out three main tracks for the transformation:

  • New world standard for mining;
  • Sponge iron (direct reduced iron) produced using green hydrogen will in time replace iron ore pellets, opening the way for a fossil-free iron and steel industry; and
  • Extract critical minerals from mine waste: using fossil-free technology to extract strategically important earth elements and phosphorous for mineral fertiliser from today’s mine waste.

The transformation is expected to require extensive investments in the order of SEK10-20 billion ($1.2-2.3 billion) a year over a period of around 15 to 20 years within LKAB’s operations alone. The company said the new strategy was a response to market developments in the global iron and steel industry, “which is undergoing a technology shift”.

The move could cut annual carbon dioxide emissions from the company’s customers worldwide by 35 Mt, equivalent to two thirds of Sweden’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions, it said.

Developments under the HYBRIT project, in which SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall are collaborating on a process to enable the reduction of steel from iron ore using hydrogen instead of carbon, will be keenly observed following the miner’s announcement.

On top of this collaboration, LKAB is working with Sandvik, ABB, Combitec, Epiroc and several other industry leaders to develop the technology that will enable the transition to fossil-free, autonomous mines, it said.

Moström added: “The market for iron and steel will grow and, at the same time, the global economy is shifting towards a carbon-free future. Our carbon-free products will play an important part in the production of railways, wind farms, electric vehicles and industrial machinery.

“We will go from being part of the problem to being an important part of the solution.”

The market for steel is forecasted to grow by 50% by 2050. This growth will be achieved by an increase in the upgrading of recycled scrap in electric arc furnaces, according to LKAB. Today, the iron and steel industry accounts for more than a quarter of industrial emissions and for 7% of the world’s total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to an IEA report.

The company said: “The global market price for recycled scrap is now twice that of iron ore pellets. The carbon-free sponge iron that will in time replace iron ore pellets as LKAB’s main export product is suitable for arc furnaces, allowing the company to offer industries throughout the world access to carbon-free iron.”

Moström said the switch from iron ore pellets to carbon-free sponge iron was an important step forward in the value chain, increasing the value of its products at the same time as giving customers direct access to “carbon-free iron”.

“That’s good for the climate and good for our business,” he said. “This transformation will provide us with good opportunities to more than double our turnover by 2045.”

During the transformation period, LKAB will supply iron ore pellets in parallel with developing carbon-free sponge iron.

To reach the new strategy’s goals, rapid solutions must be found for various complex issues, according to the company. These include permits, energy requirements and better conditions for research, development and innovation within primary industry.

Moström said: “Our transformation will dramatically improve Europe’s ability to achieve its climate goals. By reducing emissions primarily from our export business, we will achieve a reduction in global emissions that is equivalent to two-thirds of all Sweden’s carbon emissions. That’s three times greater than the effect of abandoning all cars in Sweden for good.

“It’s the biggest thing we in Sweden can do for the climate.”

Göran Persson, Chairman of the Board of LKAB, said: “What Swedish industry is now doing, spearheaded by LKAB, is to respond to the threatening climate crisis with innovation and technological change. In doing so, we are helping to secure a future for coming generations. This will also create new jobs in the county of Norrbotten, which will become a hub in a green industrial transformation. Succeeding in this will create ripples for generations to come. Not just here, but far beyond our borders.

“Now we are doing, what everyone says must be done.”

ABB to deliver drives and motors to Fortescue’s Iron Bridge Magnetite project

ABB has won a $26 million order from Fortescue Metals Group to deliver water-cooled variable speed drives and high voltage induction motors to FMG’s majority-owned Iron Bridge Magnetite project in Western Australia.

The project, operated under an unincorporated joint venture between Fortescue subsidiary, FMG Magnetite Pty Ltd, and Formosa Steel IB, covers the development of a new magnetite mine, including processing and transport facilities. The $2.6 billion development is expected to produce 22 Mt/y (wet) of high grade, magnetite concentrate, with first ore in 2022.

As part of the project, the Iron Bridge Joint Venture required a cost-effective energy efficient variable speed drive solution, according to ABB. These drives, to be installed in eight switch rooms, operate with a separate transformer that is located outside the room. This reduces the heat generated inside, resulting in less energy required to maintain the 25°C room temperature.

ABB’s water-cooled drives also directly support a higher voltage 33 kV network, it said. “This eliminates the need for a lower voltage intermediate switchboard and additional components, which ultimately reduces the total cost of the project,” the company explained.

Iron Bridge also selected ABB high voltage induction motors to power high pressure grinding rolls, grinding mills and baghouse fans used to separate the ore from the dust at Iron Bridge. Engineered to withstand harsh conditions, the motors offer high power efficiency, but in a frame size smaller than competitive alternatives, it said.

Mike Briggs, Business Manager for ABB Motion, Australia, said: “We have worked closely with the Iron Bridge team to ensure that we delivered an energy efficient, reliable and innovative solution. We are especially pleased to have won both the drive and the motor business, and look forward to continuing our strong relationship with Fortescue beyond the delivery of this project and supporting them throughout the mine’s lifecycle.”

ABB and IBM collaborate on industrial cybersecurity solution

ABB and IBM have announced a collaboration focused on connecting cybersecurity and operational technology (OT) for industrial operations.

As a first result of this collaboration, ABB has developed a new OT Security Event Monitoring Service that combines ABB’s process control system domain expertise with IBM’s security event monitoring portfolio to, ABB says, help improve security for industrial operators.

Industrial control system environments are increasingly targeted in cyberattacks, with IBM’s latest X-Force Threat Intelligence Index finding that attacks on industrial and manufacturing facilities have increased by over 2,000% since 2018.

To better connect OT data with the broader IT security ecosystem, ABB has developed a new offering that allows security events from ABB to be sent to IBM’s security information and event management platform, QRadar.

The ABB solution was designed according to a reference architecture jointly developed by ABB and IBM. It provides the domain knowledge needed to swiftly react to security incidents related to process control, and is especially suited for complex industrial processes in industries such as oil, gas, chemicals and mining, ABB says.

The new event collection and forwarding software, which enables this integration, is currently being used by early adopter customers and will be made broadly available by ABB in the coming months.

This collaboration marks the first time that operational technology (OT) data and process industry domain expertise is being brought directly into a Security Information and Event Monitoring system, allowing threats to be managed as part of an organisation’s broader cybersecurity operations and strategy, ABB says.

Robert Putman, Global Manager of Cyber Security Service for Industrial Automation at ABB, said: “ABB’s collaboration with IBM makes it possible to analyse process control events in the context of security and impact to the operational environment, delivering strong improvement in our OT cyber threat visibility across the board.”

ABB explained: “Disruption of production due to a cyberattack or technical glitches can be costly in terms of lost production and damage to physical assets. Most mature operational monitoring is focused on the performance of the asset, whether it be a gas turbine for electricity, a drive system used to crush ore, or simple monitoring of pollution output from a chemical facility.”

The new ABB offering allows ABB’s process control system data collection and forwarding technology to harvest event log details from ABB process control systems, and share that information with IBM Security QRadar, which uses automation and artificial intelligence to help identify security anomalies and potential threats.

Dr Andreas Kühmichel, CTO, Chemicals, Petroleum & Industrial Products, IBM, said: “We see the integration of these solutions as bringing market-leading capabilities together for a singular view of OT security. With more comprehensive OT and IT security visibility, clients can help reduce the risk of production being suddenly interrupted due to a security event, resulting in costly downtime and broader risk to the company.”

The ABB and IBM technologies involved in this solution are designed on open platforms allowing them to operate on the edge and deploy across hybrid cloud environments spanning on-premise, private or public clouds, ABB says. The joint solution is designed so that security processes operate via automation and do not disturb industrial workflows. The security analysis in QRadar operates through a use case library, which automatically flags incidents and triggers corresponding alarms.

The two companies plan continued collaboration in the realm of OT security to develop new capabilities and offerings that address customer challenges in this space.

Sandvik enters LKAB-led SUM project as Volvo Group departs

Sandvik has joined the Sustainable Underground Mining (SUM) project being run by LKAB at the same time as the Volvo Group has exited the Sweden-based collaboration.

The moves come as the iron ore miner looks to “further strengthen a joint endeavour towards sustainable underground mining at great depths”, it said.

To develop the digitalised, autonomous and carbon-dioxide-free mine of the future, in collaboration with other globally leading Swedish companies, LKAB initiated SUM in 2018.

After 2030, LKAB must be ready to mine iron ore deeper in the mines in Kiruna and Malmberget, in northern Sweden. For this, one of Sweden’s biggest industrial investments ever, decisions will have to be taken in the mid-2020s.

“This type of strategic collaboration project is very complex, each company contributes its specific expertise, and the partners will link together both digital systems and operations,” LKAB says. “Providing unique possibilities for SUM, the test mine, Konsuln, in Kiruna will serve as a real mine environment where technology, machines and working methods will be tested.”

Sandvik will be joining LKAB, Epiroc, ABB and Combitech in trying to achieve this goal. The Volvo Group’s earlier partnership in SUM will now take the form of other collaboration with LKAB, the miner said.

Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB, said: “In the coming years, LKAB must have a solution in place to be able to mine iron ore at depths approaching or exceeding 2,000 m in a cost-effective way by employing technology that is safe, autonomous, electrified, digitalised and carbon-dioxide-free.

“To enable this, collaboration with other leading industrial companies will be decisive. Sandvik’s longstanding experience of producing underground vehicle systems will complement the ongoing work in an important way.”

Stefan Widing, President and CEO Sandvik, said: “LKAB has used automated equipment from Sandvik for many years and we look forward to the opportunity to extend our collaboration and introduce new and advanced solutions that will set an industry standard.”

Epiroc and Sandvik will be relied on for battery-powered, autonomous and efficient mining equipment and related solutions that will ensure improved productivity and safety in LKAB’s mines. ABB’s role is to contribute knowledge and solutions for electrification, automation, service and maintenance. Combitech, meanwhile, will bring broad expertise and experience when it comes to connecting autonomous processes and people via so-called digital ecosystems.

LKAB says significant progress has been made on the project to date, including:

  • Successful establishment of the test mine, Konsuln, in Kiruna, where testing is carried out in a real mine environment;
  • An integration and collaboration platform, ‘LOMI’ (LKAB Open Mine Integrator) has been developed to enable an open systems architecture whereby all partners can develop modules and solutions that work together;
  • ABB has delivered ABB Ability System 800xA, the control-room console Extended Operation Workplace and a “Collaboration table” for visualising key functions and key figures in the mine, allowing the operator to monitor and control equipment in the best, most sustainable way. The ambition is that everything that is done in the test mine can be approved, planned and controlled via a project office at surface level, so that underground work can be done more efficiently;
  • Epiroc has delivered the drill rig Easer L and Scooptram ST18 LHD, both equipped for automation functionality, for the test mine, and operators and service personnel have been trained. The Easer L, commissioned in 2019, has shown good results in drilling over 50-m-long holes in the test mine, which is an important step for planning the future mine layout. For the loader, during Autumn 2020, the plan is to conduct tests with increasing complexity in terms of automation and interoperability; and
  • Combitech has delivered new solutions for systems platforms on an ongoing basis together with LKAB’s IT department. The aim is to synchronise new technology with existing systems.

In March 2020, the “Testbed for integrated, efficient and carbon-dioxide-free mining systems”, a part of SUM, received funding amounting to 207 million Swedish kronor ($23 million) from the Swedish Energy Agency.