Tag Archives: Luleå University of Technology

Boliden and Luleå University of Technology enter into a collaboration agreement

Boliden and Luleå University of Technology have entered into a long-term strategic collaboration agreement that could help deepen the work the two have been pursuing in the fields of mine automation and optimal resource utilisation within the smelting process.

The new agreement means collaboration will be enhanced “in terms of competence provision and competence development, as well as research and innovation towards leading positions within automation and resource utilisation”, Boliden said.

The miner has long collaborated with Luleå University of Technology, with a focus on developing technology and strengthening competence in both mining and smelting operations. The university has also been an important recruitment base for Boliden.

Mikael Staffas, President and CEO of Boliden (left, pictured with Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Luleå University of Technology’s Vice Chancellor), said: “Attracting and further developing skills and technologies is an important part of Boliden’s strategy and requires long-term work. We are already a leader in areas such as climate performance and I look forward to future efforts to further develop the business.”

Some examples of projects the two are working on include process automation and digital twins, human-machine interaction in automation, and sustainability management and social acceptance.

Pär Weihed, Professor and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Luleå University of Technology, said: “In connection with the climate transition, we are seeing there is substantial demand for metals and minerals. At the same time, Luleå University of Technology and Boliden have a long and successful history, and together we can create better conditions for a more sustainable supply of raw materials.”

SpacEarth addresses mine collapse risk with Mines-In-Time

The EIT RawMaterials supported start-up, SpacEarth Technology, has developed a new automated solution for real-time monitoring of ground displacements in mining to increase workers’ safety as well as mining asset integrity, EIT said.

Mines-In-Time (MIT) is designed to monitor rock mass during mining operations and is integrated in a traffic-light decision support system (DSS) to avoid risks and cost related with mine collapses, EIT said.

The solution has been validated in relevant environments on the micro-seismicity data recorded at Boliden’s Garpenberg mine, in Sweden, one of the world’s most productive and automated underground zinc mines, currently mining at 1,250 m depth.

The Mines-In-Time solution addresses the following:

  • Control ground deformations and stress alteration of the rock mass during mining operations;
  • Improved safety during mining operations; and
  • Enabling real-time autonomous decision-making systems.

Based on the four dimensions Local Earthquake Tomography (4D LET) methodology, Mines-In-Time is able to analyse both natural and induced micro-seismicity from mining operations, according to EIT.

“This technique is an unparalleled upgrade of the traditional ambient noise analysis and time-lapse 3D LET, since the addition of the fourth dimension (time) allows real-time monitoring of ground deformation related to the stress variation, and provides an instant alert in case of risky conditions, using data provided by the existing networks of seismographs already installed in most of the mining sites (no extra hardware to be installed),” EIT said.

For this reason, MIT is the only DSS and early warning system for mining able to dynamically forecast rock deformations and provide an alert in case of critical conditions, according to EIT.

Mining companies and service providers will benefit from a reduction of health and safety risks of personnel involved in underground works and reduction of economic losses due to collapses and failures, according to EIT.

It will also improve planning and scheduling of mining and maintenance operations, saving costs associated with inspections, analysis and monitoring, estimated in the order of 30% with respect to current practices.

SpacEarth Technology, a spin-off of the Italian Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), was founded in 2014 and supported by the EIT RawMaterials Booster to develop applications for the mining industry.

SpacEarth has direct connections with mining companies (Bolden and LKAB), service providers (DMT and IMS), and the Luleå University of Technology, all of which are tied to working on seismic hazards in mines.

It was initially supported by the EIT RawMaterials Start-up and SME Booster 2016 and 2017.

“The EIT RawMaterials Booster supported the delivery of a market study for the mining sector including direct contacts with client prospects,” EIT said. “As a result, the company achieved a higher technology level, and this boosted the technology attractiveness from the industry.”

Mines-In-Time will be further validated in 2020 thanks to a recently established contract between SpacEarth and Boliden.

Savka Dineva, Professor, Luleå University of Technology, said: “The seismic hazard in the mines is strongly related to the stress changes and the condition of the rock mass (fracturing process with time). That is why monitoring of these two factors is important to foresee the changes in the seismic hazard. MIT is a valuable tool that could give important information about the changing stress and rock conditions – it can be used for large volumes.”

APCOM 2019 to showcase mining’s digital transformation developments

The preliminary technical programme for the APCOM 2019 conference in Wroclaw, Poland, (June 4-6) has gone live, showing off some of the highest quality peer-reviewed papers on ‘digital transformation’ in mining, from resource estimation to mine operation and safety.

The conference topics include:

Geostatistics and resource estimation

APCOM said: “An entire three-day conference stream provides more than 20 leading- edge and peer-reviewed papers by world-class practitioners from leading mining companies and by world-leading research institutes.”

Papers on this topic include: Transforming Exploration Data Through Machine Learning from MICROMINE’s Mark Gabbitus, Rock mass characterisation using MWD data and photogrammetry from Luleå University of Technology’s Sohail Manzoor, and Rethinking Fleet & Personnel Management in the era of IoT, Big Data, Gamification, and low-cost Tablet Technology from MST Global’s Sean Dessureault.

Mine planning

There will be about 15 papers on newest IT-supported techniques in mine planning, uncertainty reduction, geomechanics, modelling, simulation and the most recent software technology, according to APCOM.

Papers on this topic include: A procedure to generate optimised ramp designs using mathematical programming from Delphos Mine Planning Lab, AMTC/DIMIN, Universidad de Chile’s Nelson Morales, Incorporation of geological risk into underground mine planning from NEXA Resources’ Rafael Rosado and a presentation from AngloGold Ashanti’s Andrade Barbosa titled, Economic Optimisation of Rib Pillars Placement in Underground Mines.

Scheduling and dispatch

“Around 15 papers address long- and short-term scheduling optimisation, the application of neural networks and genetic algorithms as well as risk mitigation and related software systems. A keynote talk covers the impact of Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and gamification on fleet scheduling topics,” APCOM said.

The conference has attracted speakers on this subject from Clausthal University of Technology, AngloGold Ashanti, University of Alberta, AusGEMCO Pty Ltd, Newmont Mining Corp, Advanced Mining Technology Center and Maptek.

Mine operation in digital transformation

There are more than 20 papers in this stream covering mining equipment related topics in the area of LHD transport, drilling and longwall operation, as well as underground communications and new digital technologies in mine safety, as well as product quality optimisation.

Speakers from the Kola Science Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Breakline and breakdown surfaces modelling in the design of large-scale blasts), Komatsu Mining (The Digital Mine eco-system), Tunnel Radio (Hybrid 5G Fibre Optic/Leaky Feeder Communication System) and Epiroc (Monitoring of a stoping operation, digital transformation in practice) are set to present papers

Emerging technologies and robotics in mining

Under this topic, there are a number of sessions with almost 10 papers covering the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in mining, the benefits of upcoming technology in robotics, mechatronics and communications, as well as the changes in machine design through digital transformation, APCOM said. Also a completely new transport system is presented in this stream.

Papers in this stream include: More Safety in Underground Mining with IoT and Autonomous Robots (TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Institute of Mining and Special Civil Engineering), Application of UAV imaging and photogrammetry for high-resolution modelling of open pit geometry and slope stability monitoring (Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno) and The concept of walking robot for mining industry (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology).

Synergies from other industries

A plenary speech from an active airline captain will lead this session, talking about the impact of human-machine interfaces on decision-making of automated equipment and in control centres, APCOM said. Other papers will be on the transferability of building information modelling from commercial construction to mining.

A paper from MT-Silesia Sp zoo called: From machine construction to mechatronic system design: Digital Transformation is changing the way of thinking! is included. There are also talks from MobileTronics GmbH’s George Biro on, Rethinking mining transport: Trackless trains for mass transport in mining and KGHM Polska Miedeź’s Mariusz Sangórski presenting, Energy Management System Maturity Model – Systematic Approach to Gain Knowledge about Organization’s Real Engagement in Energy Efficiency Area.

The conference takes place at the convention centre of the Wroclaw University of Technology and is accompanied by an exhibition, APCOM said. A social programme, conference dinner with entertainment and partner activities are available as well as field trips on June 7.

“A post-conference hike in the Karkonosze Mountains is offered from June 8-10, with overnight stays in two microbreweries on the ridge, is a relaxing finish to the technical discussions of the week,” APCOM said.

All presentations are to be held in English. Simultaneous translation to Polish is provided if requested by a sufficient number of participants.

International Mining is a media partner for APCOM 2019.

LKAB takes to the skies to find new orebodies around Kiruna

LKAB, in tandem with representatives from the University of Münster (Germany) and Luleå University of Technology, LTU (Sweden), recently flew a helicopter-borne survey system, around 90 m above the ground, around its Kiruna area in northern Sweden.

The process works where a helicopter flies past 90 m above the ground with a survey instrument in tow. During a week in October, the helicopter flew in the Luossavaara area near Kurravaaravägen in and around the Varggropen/Nukutus outdoor leisure area and Lake Tuollujärvi.

LKAB said: “The method is unique and was conducted as a research study – one that can help safeguard LKAB’s future.”

The area surveyed was around 40 km², but two weeks preparation was necessary before flying could begin. First, a 2 km cable was laid out in various places in the terrain. Iron digging bars for conducting electrical current into the earth were attached to each end of the cable.

Niklas Juhojuntti, Geophysicist at LKAB, said: “It creates an electromagnetic wave that emits a signal that penetrates the ground. The signal is captured by sensors in the survey instrument suspended beneath the aircraft.”

Based on the aircraft test results, the project group in Germany will put together a 3D model which could reach down to a depth of around 1 km. The survey results will show if there are any electrical conductors, which could indicate the presence of an orebody.

“If this is the case, we will have to drill to find out more precisely what it is. Magnetite is a great conductor,” says Juhojuntti.

LKAB anticipates the results from the aerial survey in January or February 2019 at the earliest. Scientists from LTU will also compile the results from surveys carried out on the surface.

“By piecing together all of the results, we can gain a better picture. From what we’ve seen so far, all the survey data looks good and provided a clear signal,” says Juhojuntti.

LKAB took responsibility for certain parts of the logistics in Kiruna, but the research project paid for the surveys.

“They wanted to demonstrate that there survey methods work, and now they’ve been able to fly in an area where we know mineralisation is present,” Juhojuntti said.

“In Germany, it’s not as easy to find areas like this, and nor is everyone there quite as well disposed toward this method. They were extremely pleased with the Kiruna residents, who left their equipment well alone. They enjoyed a great reception by the people out in the field.”

The results from the flights can help LKAB in its hunt for new orebodies and create a more secure future, the company says.

“I’m hoping this method will allow us to detect any indications concerning unknown major orebodies at depth. We still haven’t done much work at depth north of Nukutus,” Juhojuntti says.