Tag Archives: LKAB

LKAB accelerates carbon-dioxide-free sponge iron plans

LKAB says it is boosting both the pace and the level of ambition of its plans towards transitioning to carbon-dioxide-free sponge iron following a successful exploration program.

A dramatic increase in mineral resources means that the plan for future production of sponge iron has been upped to 24.4 Mt/y by 2050. This will enable a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions among global steel industry customers corresponding to nearly all of Sweden’s current greenhouse gas emissions, LKAB says.

“The climate can’t wait and demand for the raw material for producing fossil-free steel is already upon us – before we have even reached the market,” Jan Moström, LKAB’s President and CEO, said.

In March 2022, LKAB reported increased mineral reserves and mineral resources, referencing deposits containing about 4,000 Mt, which will enable production far beyond 2060. LKAB’s known mineral reserves and resources now add up to double the amount thus far mined in the company’s 130-year history.

“We are accelerating and expanding the plans for future production of sponge iron produced with hydrogen,” Moström said.

LKAB is now moving towards a rapid industrialisation of the HYBRIT technology for transforming production in Malmberget/Gällivare, which is closely integrated with SSAB. The plan is to synchronise the transition with SSAB’s planned transition and to have switched entirely from pellet production to sponge iron amounting to some 5.4 Mt by the 2030s. This will enable emissions reductions amounting to about 9 Mt at SSAB.

Moström added: “After the most recent climate reports from the UN, the urgency of the climate issue must be obvious to everyone. We can see that this transition also makes good business sense and that it creates jobs, growth and yield on investments. By leading the way towards the green transition, we are also building Sweden’s competitive advantage internationally.

“The entire value chain must undergo a transformation, and quickly. The HYBRIT technology, which we have developed in collaboration with SSAB and Vattenfall, will be industrialised starting in Gällivare, where the first plant will be operational in 2026. The capacity increase LKAB is now planning corresponds to three more such facilities in Malmberget/Gällivare within barely a few years after commissioning of the first HYBRIT plant.”

When the transition has been completed, with increased production, by around 2050, the target is for LKAB to produce 24.4 Mt/y of sponge iron, with zero carbon dioxide emissions. By removing the oxygen from the iron ore by means of electrically-produced hydrogen gas, instead of the steel mills using fossil carbon in blast furnaces, LKAB can enable reductions in carbon dioxide emissions of between 40-50 Mt/y at steelmaking customers. That corresponds to nearly all of Sweden’s current annual greenhouse gas emissions.

A rapid transition places higher demands on fossil-free electricity and more power distribution infrastructure. LKAB’s demand, needed mainly for hydrogen gas production, is estimated at 20 TWh/y by 2030, increasing to 50 TWh/y by 2040 and finally reaching 70 TWh/y when the entire expansion has been realised by 2050.

“To make the climate transition a reality, we will need a massive expansion of power production and distribution,” Moström said. “We need to double electricity production within the next 25 years, and the iron and steel industry value chain is waiting for very other TWh of this.”

The switch from pellets to sponge iron also means that the value of the product increases significantly, according to LKAB.

Moström concluded: “In terms of today’s market prices, this expansion would triple LKAB’s revenue. By building up production of sponge iron, we are increasing the value of LKAB’s, and thereby Sweden’s, mineral reserves and resources, and creating growing export values. Above all, we are making an enormous effort for the benefit of the climate.”

LKAB to trial ‘first-of-its-kind’ Scania electric heavy tipper truck at Malmberget

An electric Scania Heavy Tipper truck is set to operate at LKAB’s iron ore mine in Malmberget, northern Sweden, alongside an electric crane truck specially adapted for these mining operations, giving Scania a chance to test and operate fully-electric trucks in a demanding underground mine environment.

The heavy tipper has a total weight including load of 49 t and will transport residual products, Scania said. The second truck is equipped with a crane, purpose-fit to transport drill steel to underground drill rigs. The electric truck with the crane will be charged at the depot, but mobile charging at the sites will also be possible to increase flexibility. The vehicles are expected to start operations at Malmberget during 2022.

Peter Gustavsson, Project Manager at LKAB, said the electric Scania trucks are part of an ambition to set a new standard for sustainable mining, where fossil-free solutions are used.

“We are shifting our fleet away from fossil diesel and as we are testing the capacity of battery-powered electric vehicles; decisions are taken with respect to the choice of trucks must not only contribute to higher productivity but, above all, also a more sustainable mine and a safer work environment.”

Fredrik Allard, Head of E-mobility, Scania, said: “We continue to work with customers that are willing to try innovative solutions together with us. For Scania it is very valuable to be able to test electric vehicles in the extreme environment in real customer operations in the mine. On top of that, the electric heavy tipper is the first of its kind in the industry and another really big step on the journey towards sustainable transport solutions across all applications.”

Gustavsson concluded: “Scania’s entry into our transformation process is valuable because it gives us the opportunity to evaluate their battery-powered vehicles. Together we hope to develop and build fossil-free vehicles that are as productive or even more so than the ones we currently have.”

LKAB starts core logging automation, digitalisation process with Minalyzer CS

LKAB has become the first iron ore miner in the world to implement the continuous XRF scanner Minalyzer CS, starting the process of automating and digitalising its drill core logging workflow.

By collecting data in an automated system, LKAB is aiming to improve the consistency and efficiency of its core logging process, Minalyze said.

LKAB and Minalyze initiated the collaboration in March 2020 when the first scanner was installed at the Kiruna iron ore mine for a test. It was then expanded to Malmberget where data from the Minalyzer CS was used to help geological logging of the drill core. The focus for the tests was to assess the datasets: geochemistry, high resolution images, RQD and specific gravity generated by the scanner and to determine how these datasets can assist in the core logging process.

Following these developments, the two companies plus Sentian, in May 2021, said an artificial intelligence application developed by the trio would be trialled to make drill core analysis faster, with the time to evaluate a drill core reduced from weeks to minutes, with increased accuracy.

LKAB Senior Vice President Exploration, Strategy and Business Development, Pierre Heeroma, said: “The tests with the Minalyzer in Kiruna and the more complex Malmberget geology confirmed that this Swedish technology is disrupting the core logging process – now we have fast access to rich data as guidance when classifying the rocks. Our core logging is now consistent and efficient.”

Annelie Lundström, CEO Minalyze AB, said: “The rest of the iron ore industry should closely follow the transformation LKAB is undergoing. With the Minalyzer they have one of the more automated and digitalised core logging workflows in the world. And they are setting a new world standard for sustainable mining with the fossil-free iron ore and steel making.

“We are very proud to be part of LKAB’s transition into the future.”

LKAB to boost remote drilling operations with new Epiroc Boomer, Boltec and Simba rigs

Epiroc says it has won a large order for a variety of underground mining equipment including Boomer face drilling rigs, Boltec rock reinforcement rigs and a Simba production drilling rig from LKAB in Sweden.

LKAB, Europe’s largest iron ore producer, is set to use the rigs at its Malmberget and Kiruna underground iron ore mines in northern Sweden. The order is valued at SEK105 million ($12.2 million) and was booked in the third (September) quarter of 2021.

“Epiroc and LKAB have a long history together as partners around innovative technologies, always aimed at optimising operations in the most productive and sustainable way,” Epiroc’s President and CEO, Helena Hedblom, said.

The machines include many advanced automation features, according to Epiroc.

For example, the Simba production drill rig will be operated remotely from a control room in the Kiruna mine. This rig adds to LKAB’s existing fleet of six Simba production drill rigs that are remotely controlled from the control room and two that are remotely controlled in the mine environment.

One of the Boltec machines (an example pictured) will also be equipped with a new automated pumpable resin system, a key component in Epiroc’s automated bolting development. All the machines come with Epiroc’s telematics system Certiq, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real-time.

Swedish universities on board with LKAB’s carbon-dioxide free mission

LKAB says it is investing SEK80 million ($9.3 million) in a multi-year collaboration focused on research for sustainable mining of the future.

In close collaboration with LKAB personnel, prominent researchers at, among other partners, Luleå University of Technology, Örebro University and Mälardalen University will develop solutions to enable the company’s transition to carbon dioxide-free processes and products by 2045, LKAB says.

Jordi Puig, Head of Mining Technology, LKAB, says: “This initiative supports our strategy to set a new world standard for mining. Researchs findings will be shared ‘open source’ with our partners ABB, Combitech, Epiroc and Sandvik and eventually also with other companies.”

As part of LKAB’s collaboration project to create a digitalised, automated and carbon-dioxide-free mine, the company has engaged in regular dialogue with academia and announces that, earlier in the year, the decision was taken to fund 10 different research assignments. Now an agreement has been signed with Luleå University of Technology, Örebro University and Mälardalen University, and discussions with several other universities have been initiated.

Daniel Johansson, Professor and Acting Head of Mining and Rock Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, says: “Since the start of Luleå University of Technology, and especially during recent decades, LKAB has been our strongest partner. We are very pleased to be entrusted to participate in the green transition which LKAB has now begun. This is also well in line with the university’s strategy for future autonomous, efficient and sustainable mine operation. We look forward to successful research collaboration.”

Amy Loutfi, Pro-vice-chancellor AI and Innovation, Örebro University, says: “The initiative presents a fantastic opportunity. This represents a collective ambition to focus on basic and applied research and to use AI and autonomous systems in an improved mining sector. We have been looking strategically at the mining industry for some time and we view it as a growing application area for AI and robotics. LKAB’s initiative leads us into further collaboration with industry and academic partners and we are delighted to be a part of this.”

Erik Dahlquist, Professor in Energy Technology, Mälardalen University, says: “Mälardalen University has worked with risk management, energy and production optimisation within many industries, and we are very pleased to be able to be working towards the realisation of LKAB’s ambition to set a new world standard for sustainable mining. This is really driving the industry towards a future with electrification and AI systems for automated operation.”

Research assignments will commence immediately and continue until the close of 2024. Research work will be conducted mainly within the areas of underground transportation and energy efficiency, as well as risk management for increased safety awareness

Puig added: “To improve safety, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and to increase productivity in our mines is vital for LKAB to be able to continue to deliver climate-efficient iron ore products. This is one of many steps toward the achievement of our objectives.”

ABB extends and expands hoist service agreement with LKAB at Kiruna

ABB has signed a long-term agreement with LKAB to provide service to 12 mine hoists and, now, hoisting motors at the Kiruna iron ore mine in northern Sweden.

ABB has provided LKAB Kiruna with maintenance and hoist cycle optimisation to maximise efficiency and increase capacity at the mine since 2010. The new contract extends these services to the end of 2023, plus adds hoisting motors into the mix, with an agreement that LKAB may sign up for a further three years on a rolling basis, ABB says.

Most of the ore mined at Kiruna is at depths of more than 1 km, with large solid slabs of iron ore extending several hundreds of meters down into the ground. Local ABB engineers, supported by ABB globally, have worked on site at Kiruna to increase hoist capacity through a reduced hoist cycle time to optimise production. They have improved equipment use, balancing capacity and wear and tear of the hoist equipment, the company said.

Peter Ylivainio, Senior Maintenance Engineer at LKAB, said: “LKAB places great emphasis on refining every element of the underground mining process, in order to make it as efficient as possible. Mining ore at great depths is a logistical challenge that places demands for a well-functioning infrastructure and safe and resource-efficient production, with well-developed production methods and processes vital. We have a long successful relationship with ABB and their local presence, global expertise and remote operations technology support our goals.”

Erik Kjellgren, Strategic Account Manager, ABB, said: “This new agreement means ABB will ensure optimal capacity, greater efficiency, lower energy consumption and extended equipment lifecycles across control systems, motors, drives as well as the hoists up to 2023 and beyond. Our experienced team of engineers provides regular support to LKAB and we look forward to seeing increased benefits for our customer in terms of insights and actions to optimize equipment performance.”

The hoists are the main artery of the production flow at the Kiruna mine as they raise the ore hundreds of meters from the sublevel to ground level. Their continuous operation is critical for safety and to prevent costly interruptions to production, according to ABB. LKAB’s extended service agreement with ABB is designed to ensure the maximum reliability and availability for the hoist control system, motors and drives located both above and below ground.

HYBRIT partners produce world’s first hydrogen-reduced sponge iron

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall say they have now produced the world’s first hydrogen-reduced sponge iron at a pilot scale.

The technological breakthrough in the HYBRIT initiative captures around 90% of emissions in conjunction with steelmaking and is a decisive step on the road to fossil-free steel, the partners say.

The feat from the HYBRIT pilot plant in Luleå, Sweden, showed it is possible to use fossil-free hydrogen gas to reduce iron ore instead of using coal and coke to remove the oxygen. Production has been continuous and of good quality, the companies said, with around 100 t made so far.

This is the first time ever that hydrogen made with fossil-free electricity has been used in the direct reduction of iron ore at a pilot scale, according to the HYBRIT partners. The goal, in principle, is to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the steelmaking process by using only fossil-free feedstock and fossil-free energy in all parts of the value chain.

Hydrogen-based reduction is a critical milestone, which paves the way for future fossil-free iron and steelmaking. SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall intend, through HYBRIT, to create the most efficient value chain from the mine to steel, with the aim of being first to market, in 2026, with fossil-free steel at an industrial scale, they say.

Last year, HYBRIT, a joint initiative of SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, began test operations to make hydrogen-reduced sponge iron in the pilot plant built with support from the Swedish Energy Agency. The technology is being constantly developed and the sponge iron that has been successfully made using hydrogen technology is the feedstock for the fossil-free steel of the future, they say.

Jan Moström, President and CEO at LKAB, said: “This is a major breakthrough both for us and for the entire iron and steel industry. LKAB is the future supplier of sponge iron and this is a critical step in the right direction. Progress with HYBRIT enables us to maintain the pace in our transition and, already in 2026, we will begin the switch to industrial-scale production with the first demonstration plant in Gällivare, Sweden. Once LKAB has converted its entire production to sponge iron, we will enable the transition of the steel industry and reduce global emissions by around 35 Mt a year, which corresponds to two thirds of Sweden’s entire emissions. This is the greatest action we can take together for the good of the climate.”

Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO at SSAB, added: “This technological breakthrough is a critical step on the road to fossil-free steel. The potential cannot be underestimated. It means that we can reach climate goals in Sweden and Finland and contribute to reducing emissions across Europe. At the same time, it creates new jobs and export successes. SSAB’s transition means we will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10% in Sweden and 7% in Finland. High-strength fossil-free steel will also allow us to help our customers to strengthen their competitiveness. As early as this year, we will deliver minor quantities of steel made using hydrogen-based reduction to customers, and in 2026 we will deliver fossil-free steel at a large scale.”

The hydrogen used in the direct reduction process is generated by electrolysis of water with fossil-free electricity, and can be used immediately or stored for later use, according to the partners. In May, HYBRIT began work on building a pilot-scale hydrogen storage facility adjacent to the direct reduction pilot plant in Luleå.

Anna Borg, President and CEO at Vattenfall, said: “Sweden’s and Vattenfall’s fossil-free electricity is a basic requirement for the low carbon footprint of hydrogen-reduced sponge iron. The breakthrough that we can announce today shows in a very real way how electrification contributes to enabling a fossil-free life within a generation.”

Howden to deliver hydrogen storage compression solution for HYBRIT

Howden says it has been selected to deliver a hydrogen storage compression solution for HYBRIT, the world’s first fossil-free steel plant, in Svartöberget, Sweden.

A joint project between Sweden’s SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, HYBRIT is the deployment of a unique pilot project for large-scale hydrogen storage. This initiative leads the development of the world’s first fossil-free value chain for the iron and steel industry, to address renewable hydrogen storage.

Howden has been contracted to supply a high-pressure diaphragm compression package to seamlessly integrate the storage cycle of the hydrogen production. The hydrogen compression includes installation and commissioning of a packaged three stage diaphragm compressor.

The storage facility consists of a 100 cu.m hydrogen storage built in an enclosed rock cavern approximately 30 m below ground. This offers a cost-effective solution, with the necessary pressure required, to store large amounts of energy in the form of hydrogen, Howden said.

The reliability, efficiency and safety delivered by Howden’s compression solution matches with the large-scale hydrogen storage requirements, relative to the storage conditions and the evaluation of the amount of time during which the compression pressure remains at the desired level, it added.

HYBRIT supports the European Union’s Hydrogen Strategy and its ambition to install at least 6 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU by 2024 and at least 40 GW by 2030.

Salah Mahdy, Global Director – Hydrogen at Howden, said: “Our partnership with HYBRIT demonstrates Howden’s capabilities in developing and delivering state-of-art hydrogen compressor solutions, based on our long-standing compression expertise. We have over 100 years of experience in the compression of hydrogen, which is ideally placed to support the transition to a fossil-free energy system.

“We’re thrilled to be working on this ground-breaking project, which has the potential to reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by at least 10%. The steel industry currently accounts for about 7% of the world’s global carbon emissions, so the creation of a zero-emission steel is revolutionary, and may, in the future, help to reduce emissions from iron and steel production worldwide.”

Mikael Nordlander, Head of R&D Portfolio Industry Decarbonisation, Vattenfall, adds: “Fossil-free hydrogen is central to the HYBRIT process. Hydrogen can be produced cost-effectively through the electrolysis of water using fossil-free electricity. The hydrogen produced by the electrolysers can be used immediately or stored for later use. One of the key aspects of our storage facility relies on the hydrogen compression to be deployed in a contamination-free manner. Based on their proven technology, expertise and references, we are delighted to cooperate with Howden on the integration of a reliable compression solution for storage.”

Howden says it is focused on helping customers increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their air and gas handling processes enabling them to make sustainable improvements in their environmental impact. It designs, manufactures and supplies products, solutions and services to customers around the world across highly diversified end-markets and geographies.

LKAB to trial AI-backed XRF drill core logging with help of Minalyze and Sentian

LKAB, Minalyze AB and Sentian say they have joined forces in a consortium to develop the latest technology for scanning drill core.

In March 2020, LKAB started a test with the Minalyzer CS drill core scanner where the goal was to improve the workflow for core logging – ie how the results of exploration drilling are analysed. The test led to a permanent installation in Kiruna (Sweden) and expansion to Malmberget where data from the Minalyzer CS is used to help geological logging of the drill core.

The consortium of LKAB, Minalyze and Sentian are now set to take the use of data to the next level when boreholes in LKAB’s deposits are to be investigated. The new artificial intelligence application being developed by the trio will make the analysis much faster, with the time to evaluate a drill core reduced from weeks to minutes, with increased accuracy.

This could see Minalyze’s X-ray Fluorescence-backed CS scanner analyse LKAB drill core while leveraging Sentain’s industrial artificial intelligence solutions to make real-time decisions relating to drilling and exploration activities.

The technology development driven by the consortium will be a world first, changing the entire industry, the companies say.

Jan-Anders Perdahl, Specialist at LKAB’s Exploration Department, said: “With the collaboration, the core logging takes a big step through machine learning and artificial intelligence. The geologist can, at an early stage, place greater focus on the parts of the core that show chemical or other changes. Opportunities are opened up to gain increased knowledge about ore formation processes and alterations in a completely different way than before. One can also get indications that you are close to mineralisation and where it may be located, and thereby streamline exploration.”

The technological leap will give LKAB’s staff increased competence, increased quality in and efficiency of the work, as well as reduced need for other analysis methods, according to the companies.

Annelie Lundström, CEO of Minalyze AB, said: “We are at an interesting time when the hardware to extract consistently high-resolution data from drill cores is available and we can now take the next step and generate value from data together with our customers. In this collaboration, we will develop algorithms that can map rock layers in so-called lithological logs with very high confidence. This can only be done by combining expertise from all three parties.

“The results from our collaboration will forever change how drill core logging takes place everywhere and will result in a more efficient, non-subjective and consistent process.”

Martin Rugfelt, Sentian CEO, added: “We see great power in the application of modern artificial intelligence to data from the mining industry and there is major potential in further combining our machine learning technology with Minalyze’s unique capabilities in data collection and analysis.”

HYBRIT partners start building underground fossil-free hydrogen storage facility in Luleå

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall have commenced building a rock cavern storage facility for fossil-free hydrogen gas on a pilot scale next to the HYBRIT pilot facility for direct reduced iron in Luleå, northern Sweden.

This is an important step in the development of a fossil-free value chain for fossil-free steel, the companies said, with the investment of just over SEK250 million ($29 million) divided equally across the holding companies and the Swedish Energy Agency, which provides support via Industriklivet.

As part of the SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall joint HYBRIT initiative, Hybrit Development AB is starting the construction of a hydrogen storage facility in Svartöberget to develop the technology for storage.

Fossil-free hydrogen, which will replace coal and coke, is a crucial part of the production technique for fossil-free iron and steel production, where emissions of carbon dioxide will be virtually eliminated, the companies said. Hydrogen can be produced cost effectively through the electrolysis of water using fossil-free electricity. The hydrogen produced by the electrolysers can be used immediately or stored for later use.

Hydrogen storage is predicted to play a very important role in future power and energy balancing, and in large-scale hydrogen production, according to the companies. The storage facility is expected to be operational from 2022-2024.

Andreas Regnell, Head of Strategy at Vattenfall and Chairman of the Board at HYBRIT, said: “We’re really pleased that HYBRIT is continuing to lead the development of efficient production for fossil-free steel, as we’re now also building a pilot storage facility for large-scale fossil-free hydrogen in Luleå.

“Storage provides the opportunity to vary demand for electricity and stabilise the energy system by producing hydrogen when there’s a lot of electricity, for example in windy conditions, and to use stored hydrogen when the electricity system is under strain.”

Martin Pei, Technical Director of SSAB and Board member of HYBRIT, said: “By developing a method for hydrogen storage and securing access to fossil-free electricity, we’re creating a value chain all the way out to customers where everything is fossil-free – from the mine to the electricity and to the finished steel. This is unique.”

The 100 cu.m hydrogen storage is being built in an enclosed rock cavern around 30 m below ground. Building the storage facility underground provides opportunities to ensure the pressure required to store large amounts of energy in the form of hydrogen in a cost-effective way, the companies said.

The technology used is adapted to Scandinavian bedrock conditions and will be further developed to handle the storage of hydrogen.

The storage facility is based on proven technology and the hydrogen is used in the plant’s direct reduction reactor to remove oxygen from iron ore pellets, the companies said. The fossil-free sponge iron resulting from the process is then used as a raw material in the manufacture of fossil-free steel.

Industrialisation of fossil-free steel under the HYBRIT initiative is intended to start with the first demonstration plant, which will be ready in 2026, for the production of 1.3 Mt of fossil-free sponge iron in Gällivare, Sweden. The goal is to expand sponge iron production to a full industrial scale of 2.7 Mt/y by 2030 to be able to supply SSAB, among others, with feedstock for fossil-free steel.