Tag Archives: Mikael Staffas

Boliden on mining’s differentiation pathway

When Mikael Staffas joins a panel on stage at the EIT Raw Materials Summit in Berlin, Germany, to discuss building a world-leading raw materials industry for Europe next month, he will be able to reference more than a few examples of sector excellence from his own company.

The Sweden-based mining and metals company has been leading from the front for decades, leveraging new and innovative technology, employing a more diverse workforce and engaging local stakeholders and regulators in a manner viewed as progressive from peers across the globe.

Gaining recognition from your mining company peers is one thing but gaining it from the public and EU-based decision makers is something altogether different.

According to Staffas, CEO of the company, the latest summit, which takes place on May 23-25, is part of a series of actions and events slowly getting these two groups to understand the importance of raw materials and the companies that produce them.

“We are moving this industry away from a perception that we are part of the problem, to an environment where we are seen to be part of the solution,” he told IM.

Staffas says the raw materials industry has been viewed as fundamentally important to Europe for several years in terms of tackling the climate change challenge – which will be reinforced at the summit – but the “regionalisation of economies” that has been brought about by COVID and the more recent geopolitical situation means this importance has, once again, been reinforced.

Within this context, Staffas is due to discuss at the event the fundamental need for copper and nickel in the energy transition. He will also shine a light on the importance of lead and zinc in this evolving landscape.

Boliden, through its mines and smelters in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Ireland, is a producer of all four of these metals. It can also add gold, silver, sulphuric acid, cobalt and palladium to the list.

As the general population is beginning to understand the importance of these raw materials and metals to their future, Boliden is trying to differentiate its own offering from the rest of its peers.

Not satisfied with simply matching the industry’s carbon emission and net zero goals to 2030 and beyond, Boliden has laid the gauntlet down to the rest of its competitors by registering two new products: Low-Carbon Copper and Low-Carbon Zinc.

The formula for these two low-carbon products is based on the production of finished metal, from cradle to gate, that has emissions of less than 1.5 t of CO2 per tonne of copper, compared with the global average of around 4 t of CO2 per tonne. For zinc, the threshold is even lower – less than 1 t of CO2 emissions per tonne of zinc, compared with the industry average of 2.5 t.

To this point, the introduction of both products has resulted in a slim premium over other products on the market, but Staffas still deems the launches as successful.

“The point was to differentiate our products, with many people expected to receive this differentiation,” he said.

The customers represented just one set of recipients, but Staffas said these new products also play into the ‘licence to operate’ equation, as well as discussions with authorities and non-governmental organisations.

The intention was to also lay down a benchmark the rest of the industry could start to use or discuss, he added.

Boliden’s carbon dioxide calculations include emissions along the entire value chain up to the customer according to the Scope 1, 2 and 3 Greenhouse Gas Protocol Product Life Cycle, following the ISO 14064-3 standard.

“While this might not be the only way to measure CO2, we think it is the best one,” Staffas said. “We are trying to force the industry to adopt a common way of measuring the CO2 footprint.”

This has led some of Boliden’s customers to enquire about how much embedded CO2 is in competitor zinc and copper products, ensuring the discussion spreads throughout the industry.

The obvious intention of devising such products is price, but Staffas said they also provide protection.

“When things get bad from an economical perspective, these products could really make a difference,” he said. “The customers might not pay extra for them, but if they scale down their purchases, our contracts should be the last to be cancelled.”

Staffas says Boliden is also aiming to add nickel and lead to its suite of low-carbon products in the future.

“Nickel is a special case for us as we don’t produce finished nickel; we produce a nickel matte,” he said. “We may team up with a refinery to make a joint product or do something else to ensure we can quantify the emissions according to our chosen protocols.

“Whichever way this development goes, we have to ensure we cover cradle-to-gate with these calculations otherwise it is not a true representation of the embedded carbon in that product.”

Electrification

While quantifying the carbon emissions of products is still relatively new in mining and smelting, Boliden has been using a carbon price in its internal technical studies and projections for close to a decade now.

It has been leveraging electrified sources of power for even longer. For instance, its Rönnskär copper smelter in Sweden has been using an electric oven since the 1990s.

More recently, the company has added trolley assist at Aitik and Kevitsa to this electrified base and employed ventilation on demand and heat exchangers at underground mines (the former) and smelters (the latter) to optimise its energy use.

It also has plans for underground trolley-battery haulage operation at its Rävliden (part of Kristineberg) project in Sweden through a project with Epiroc and ABB, while it is conducting a battery-electric vehicle loading trial at the Garpenberg mine, also in Sweden, with Sandvik. On the transport side, the company has recently teamed up with Scania to electrify part of its heavy-duty road transport in northern Sweden.

“It is one thing to review where we started; it is another to look at where we are going,” Staffas said on this topic. “We are planning to get better and better and go on to reduce our CO2 footprint further.”

On its way to achieving a goal of reducing its carbon dioxide intensity by 40% by 2030, the company is also looking at, among other levers, its use of explosives and cement: two key scope 3 inputs.

Staffas is confident Boliden can hit these ambitious goals by leveraging the innovation ecosystem within the Nordic region.

“For the CO2 journey we are now on, the Nordic mining cluster has and will continue to be very important,” he said. “We have big suppliers like Epiroc, Sandvik, Metso Outotec, ABB, Volvo and Scania on our doorstep. They have always worked closely with us, and we work closely with them on joint development projects.

“I think that is the main reason we are so far ahead of our competitors when it comes to our use of technology and innovation, and why we are confident in achieving our ambitious climate goals.”

Boliden joins the ICMM as it looks to bolster sustainable metal production

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) says Boliden, the Sweden-based producer of zinc, copper, nickel and more, has become its 28th company member.

In line with ICMM’s member admission process, Boliden underwent a rigorous independent assessment to ensure it adheres to ICMM’s Mining Principles. Based on the recommendation of the independent review panel, ICMM’s Council, represented by the CEOs of each company member, approved Boliden’s admission.

The Boliden Group is a leader in sustainable metal production. The company’s core competence is within the fields of exploration, mining, smelting and metals recycling with five mining units and five smelters across Sweden, Finland, Norway and Ireland. Boliden’s operations are dedicated to producing metals with a low carbon footprint, with a target of reducing its CO2 intensity by 40% by 2030 through decreasing its usage of fossil fuels and improving energy efficiencies.

Tom Butler, CEO of ICMM, said: “We are delighted to welcome Boliden to ICMM. We look forward to learning from their innovative and modern approach to sustainable metal production and their circular approach to resource management. They will bring new perspectives to ICMM, where partnership, innovation, knowledge sharing, and learning are integral to everything we do.”

Mikael Staffas, President and CEO of Boliden, said: “Our vision is to become the most climate friendly and respected metal provider in the world and the membership in ICMM is an important step in that direction. Our performance within sustainable metal production is strong already today, but we will continue to seek improvements and contribute to the aim of ICMM.”

By becoming a member, Boliden, the ICMM says, commits to ICMM’s Mining Principles which define good practice Environmental, Social and Governance requirements for the mining industry through a set of 38 performance expectations. They apply at asset level and include third-party assurance and validation. Applicable to all ICMM company members, they therefore apply to around 650 sites in 50 countries.

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.”

Boliden backs trolley assist haulage for Aitik and Kevitsa

Boliden has decided to invest SEK300 million ($31.2 million) to expand the trolley assist facilities at its Aitik copper mine, in Sweden, as well as implement the corresponding technology at its Kevitsa nickel mine, in Finland.

The investments, to be made mainly during 2020-2021, come on top of the money invested in a two-year trolley assist pilot project at Aitik. This project saw Eitech and ABB supply electrical infrastructure; Pon Equipment and Caterpillar carry out truck modifications; and Chalmers University provide supporting research on system aspects of the electrification. It led to a 700 m electric trolley line being installed and four Cat 795F haul trucks being converted.

The project was also supported by the Swedish Energy Agency and saw investment in a 10 MW capacity DC substation.

Aitik is currently the only mine in the arctic where electric trolley has been installed, according to Boliden.

Mikael Staffas, President and CEO of the Boliden Group, said: “We are now taking further steps to improve both productivity and climate impact at our two open-pit mines.”

In Aitik, a further 3 km of electric trolley line will be built and another 10 trucks will be converted for electric trolley lines. Overall, the plan means that greenhouse gas emissions from transportation over the life of mine are reduced by nearly 15%.

In Kevitsa, 13 mining trucks will be converted for electric trolley lines at the same time as the 1.8-km-long electric trolley line is being built. The investment means that greenhouse gas emissions over the life of mine are reduced by 9%.

The electric trolley installations are being deployed in stages until 2022.

Boliden calculates that this move will reduce diesel consumption by 5,500 cu.m/y when the investment is completed.

In addition, productivity gains are expected as the electrically powered trucks can run at a higher speed than the diesel equivalents.

The working environment for the drivers is also improved, not least through lower noise levels, Boliden added.

Boliden Kevitsa takes delivery of first EU-Stage-V-compliant Komatsu haul truck

Boliden has received the first haul trucks from Komatsu as part of its investment in a new truck fleet at its Kevitsa (Finland) and Aitik (Sweden) open-pit base metal operations.

The delivery marks the entry of Komatsu electric dump trucks into the European market, according to the miner.

For Kevitsa, 17 Komatsu 830E-5 haul trucks will be delivered until January of 2020, with nine Komatsu 930E-5 haul trucks being delivered to Aitik until April 2020.

The new trucks are the first EU Stage-V haul trucks within Boliden’s fleet, significantly reducing diesel exhaust emissions, the company said. They will also provide improvements in operator environment and safety, Boliden added.

The Komatsu 830E-5 haul trucks have a 220 t payload and will replace the current truck fleet at Kevitsa, reducing the mine’s production cost, Boliden said. To further increase efficiency and productivity, the trucks will be equipped with dispatch and maintenance systems from Modular Mining to enable optimised production and tracking as well as fleet maintenance support, the company said.

Boliden mentioned the purchase of trucks back in October during its September quarter results, saying it had reached agreement with Komatsu regarding an investment totalling some SEK 900 million ($96 million). At the time, the company said all of the trucks were equipped for future electrification; an important point considering the trolley assist trial ongoing at Aitik.

To mark the delivery milestone of the first truck, a handover ceremony was arranged in Kevitsa on July 10.

During the event, strategies and technical solutions were presented by executives such as Boliden President and CEO, Mikael Staffas, and Managing Director and CEO of Komatsu Europe, Masatoshi Morishita.

Mikael Staffas said: “This is an important step in the development of our open-pit mines while improving our environmental performance from an already strong position. This [is], not least, because we now create opportunities for increased electrification and related productivity development.”

Masatoshi Morishita says: “Today is a milestone for Komatsu Europe. With the delivery of first CE-certified Electric Dump Trucks to Boliden, Komatsu can offer a full line-up of mining products and solutions in Europe as well. We aim this will only be the start.”

Boliden and Vattenfall sign agreement to electrify mines and smelters

Vattenfall and Boliden say they have signed an agreement to jointly evaluate technical developments to electrify mines and smelters, “the circular economy and a fossil-free future”. The agreement, which covers a four-year period, also includes battery solutions with a view to supporting the electricity grid and optimising electricity consumption, the two companies said.

The companies said: “Vattenfall and Boliden are committed to the transition to a sustainable society, which means reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Under the new four-year strategic agreement, the companies will develop business solutions involving batteries, solar panels, electric transport and recycling of new generation car batteries.”

President and CEO of Vattenfall, Magnus Hall, said: “It’s great that Vattenfall and Boliden can work together on this. It will require technological change and investments in new solutions, but the opportunities are there for both companies. Industrial partnerships like this are crucial if we are to make progress on the electrification of industry and enable fossil-free living within one generation.”

President and CEO of Boliden, Mikael Staffas, said: “Boliden is one of Europe’s largest players in the field of base metals. These metals are a crucial part of the solution for achieving ambitious climate targets in society. At the same time, it’s clearly important for us to drive the development forward within the raw materials sector and identify business solutions and processes for both mining and recycling which will make us more competitive.”

Boliden has mining and smelting operations in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Ireland, with the main sources of fossil emissions include diesel vehicles, process heat and coke as a reducing agent.

“In all areas, fossil-free electricity can be an important part of the solution,” the two companies said. “As a technology-independent partner, Vattenfall can evaluate and enable the introduction of fossil-free technologies, eg electricity and charging infrastructure for transport and mining.”

As a first step in the partnership, modern energy solutions will be implemented at the Bergsöe lead smelter in Landskrona, one of Europe’s largest recyclers of lead batteries from cars. Solar panels, which will produce locally generated renewable electricity to power the plant, will also be installed shortly, according to the two companies.

Technical solutions involving batteries, among other things, are expected to reduce the load on the electricity grid, provide backup power, reduce peaks in capacity and offset renewable weather-dependent electricity generation, they said.