Tag Archives: Blötberget

Nordic Iron Ore enlists the help of ABB to ‘future proof’ Blötberget project

Nordic Iron Ore says it has appointed ABB to scope process control and management systems for a “future-proof and fully-digitalised mining operation” at the Blötberget iron ore mine project, in Sweden.

ABB, in this context, has provided mine design consultancy and recommended scope of supply for the opening of the old Blötberget mine near Ludvika in the Dalarna region of Sweden.

The Blötberget iron ore mine is expected to be operational in 2024. Iron ore was mined until 1979 when it was closed due to low iron ore prices. Nordic Iron Ore was formed in 2008 with the main aims of resuming mining operations in Blötberget and Håksberg and conducting exploration of the expansion potential of the Väsman field, together forming the Ludvika Mines, in southern Dalarna.

ABB’s recommendation addresses automation, digital and electrification for long-term, safe, sustainable and efficient mining operations at the site. ABB analysed a detailed feasibility study by Nordic Iron Ore and made significant advancement on the definitions and scope of supply of the automation and electrification aspects of the mine, it said. ABB also looked at electrical infrastructure requirements for the Blötberget mine, including surface and underground containers, switchgears and transformers.

Lennart Eliasson, Managing Director of Nordic Iron Ore, said in the latest press release: “Mining and the support industries are a significant part of the Swedish economy, with some of the most advanced and efficient mining operations anywhere in the world. There are many challenges when opening a new mine. We want to draw on the strong technology knowledge that exists in Sweden to open a mine with low environmental impact and footprint and that is also competitive and safe. The early involvement from ABB, which has a track record of working with innovative mines in Sweden, ensures that the construction, design and planning for the development of the mine can take a significant step forward and with improved costs and benefits forecast accuracy.”

Just last month, Nordic Iron Ore’s Technical and Marketing Advisor, Paul Marsden, told IM that there was 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.”

Björn Jonsson, Hub Manager, Process Industries, ABB, said: “ABB can provide assistance at an early stage in mine development for electrification and automation and routinely collaborates with mining companies from initial feasibility studies through to full deployment. Swedish mines are already benefiting from ABB solutions, using ABB Ability™ System 800xA distributed control system and the integrated ABB Ability™ Ventilation Optimizer.”

Nordic Iron Ore and ABB will continue the development of the project and have recently signed a memorandum of understanding for further collaboration at Blötberget.

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.