Tag Archives: Sweden

Nordic Iron and VB Elnät look to engineer mine power access solution at Blötberget

Nordic Iron Ore has entered an engineering agreement with VB Elnät to determine the required measures for connecting its Blötberget project in Sweden to the electric grid.

In order to re-start mining activity in Blötberget, Nordic Iron Ore needs access to a maximum capacity of 20 MW. The company has previously signed a letter of tntent with Hitachi Energy regarding installation and operations of a permanent 50/10 kV power station, which will supply the mining area with electrical power.

During construction of the mine and the power station, access to temporary power supply will be necessary to make preparatory work such as construction of ramp, lighting, ventilation and drainage of water.

In order for Nordic Iron Ore’s facility to connect to the power grid, VB Elnät must evaluate required measures in its own electric grid and prepare documentation for applications for necessary permits, partly for the temporary usage of electrical power and partly for the permanent connection of the 50/10 kV power station, the company said.

The indicative time plan for this planning is that Nordic Iron Ore will be able to use 1 MW during the autumn of 2023 and gradually increase its usage to a maximum capacity of 20 MW during 2024-2025.

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.

Volvo CE makes electric wheel loader investment in Arvika plant

As part of its ambition towards industry transformation through sustainable solutions, Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has announced an investment into the production of electric wheel loaders from its plant in Arvika, Sweden.

The SEK65 million (circa-$6.3 million) investment from Volvo Group will allow the Arvika factory in Sweden – which specialises in the production of medium and large wheel loaders – to expand its facilities with a new building and allow for the phased introduction of new electric wheel loaders.

It is not only a milestone in the plant’s almost 140-year history, but a significant moment for Volvo CE and its determination to be completely fossil free by 2040, the company said. This is in line with the aims of the Paris Agreement and as laid out in the manufacturer’s industry leading Science-Based Target goals. It is also a step forward in its ambition for 35% of its machines sold to be electric by 2030.

Coming soon after an announcement to invest in electric haulers from the company’s production facility in Braås, Sweden, the announcement shows Volvo CE is committed to achieving more sustainable solutions for customers across all its product lines. These announcements are part of an investment strategy that allows Volvo CE to advance electric solutions across its production facilities, including also the Konz facility in Germany, Belley in France and Changwon in South Korea, where other electric machines are made.

Site Manager, Mikael Liljestrand, says: “This is a clear signal of our commitment to building the world we want to live in. It is more than 40 years since we last invested in a new building and what better reason now than to invest in our future, our planet and the next generation. We know that this is not only important to our customers and stakeholders, who rightly have high expectations on us, but it is also close to our hearts to be part of something bigger in building our future.”

Volvo CE has already introduced compact electric wheel loaders to the global market with the L20 Electric and L25 Electric wheel loaders proving to be efficient, zero-exhaust emission solutions capable of driving down carbon emissions while maintaining high productivity across a variety of customer applications. Together with the ECR25 Electric, ECR18 Electric and EC18 Electric compact excavators and the mid-size EC230 Electric excavator, Volvo CE has one of the largest electric ranges on the market.

Thanks to the investment, Arvika will erect a new building, approximately 1,500 sq m, which will allow the facility to free up areas inside its assembly factory to be able to build electric wheel loaders. While it has not yet been announced which models will begin their electric transformation and exactly when, production of both electric wheel loaders and more traditional wheel loaders fitted with combustion engines will continue for now on the same production line.

Volvo CE will ensure a phased introduction model by model, taking into account all aspects of the electric ecosystem as it does so, including infrastructure requirements, charging solutions, battery handling and business models. The result will be reliable mid-size and larger electric wheel loaders that can easily be integrated into customers’ business, it said.

It is not the first sustainability initiative from the Arvika facility. Despite increasing production last year, the factory managed to reduce its internal climate footprint by 350 t of CO2 thanks to a variety of emission reduction efforts.

“Our goal at the factory in Arvika, as well as Volvo CE and the entire Volvo Group is to be climate-smart and to produce fossil-free machines,” Liljestrand said. “Together, we are quite clear that we want to lead this transformation and be the driving force of more sustainable ways of working for the benefit of our planet. This investment is Arvika’s exciting first step towards electrification.”

Building work is set to begin later this year, with further announcements on when production will begin to come.

Epiroc equipping LKAB Kiruna personnel with new Mobilaris safety solutions

LKAB is further increasing its safety capabilities by implementing several solutions from the Mobilaris Mining Intelligence platform at its Kiruna mine in northern Sweden, Epiroc says.

The platform, now 100% incorporated into Epiroc following the consolidation of its ownership in Mobilaris MCE AB in 2021, allows all employees to receive alarm and crisis information and confirm directly on their mobile phones in an emergency situation, Epiroc says. Employees can also obtain position support and the ability to navigate faster to rescue chambers with the help of applications on their mobile phones.

This means rescue personnel will now have the tools and means to manage emergencies better and faster, according to the OEM.

Joel Kangas, LKAB’s Kiruna Mine Manager, said: “We want to shorten the time from when an alarm goes off to when everyone is safe, and we believe this digital solution can help us with that.”

Hans Wahlquist, Global Director of Product Management at Epiroc, said: “LKAB already has a high level of safety, but now there are new technologies and new opportunities, and they have the infrastructure required for this installation. This project will give everyone in the mine more information about the situation in real time.”

LKAB is setting a new world standard for mining where digitalisation forms an important step towards easier, safer and more efficient work in the mine. The mobile safety solution project is a collaboration between LKAB and Epiroc, involving both existing products from Epiroc and new developments. The project began in the autumn of 2022 and the goal is to start rolling out the solution in the spring of 2023 at the Kiruna mine.

Andreas Ericson, General Manager Epiroc Mining Intelligence, said: “Collaborations with customers are crucial for finding innovative solutions. This project demonstrates the potential for digital transformation in the mining industry, bringing us one step closer to a smarter and more efficient future.”

The following four modules from the Mobilaris Mining Intelligence portfolio are included within the project:

  • Location of people with the ability to receive alarm and crisis messages on their mobile phones through Mobilaris Situational Awareness and Mobilaris Virtual Tag;
  • Distribution of emergency messages and support provision for getting people to safety through Mobilaris Emergency Support;
  • Three dimensional map in vehicles for navigation assistance, increased traffic safety and the ability to quickly find the nearest rescue chamber through Mobilaris Onboard; and
  • Three dimensional map on the employee’s mobile phone for navigation assistance and the ability to quickly find the nearest rescue chamber through Mobilaris PocketMine.

Nordic Iron Ore engages Hitachi Energy for Blötberget power solution

Nordic Iron Ore AB has signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Hitachi Energy for a service to secure necessary electrical power to its Blötberget iron ore project in Sweden.

By securing stable supply of electricity to the mine, the company takes an important step in resuming sustainable mining of iron ore in Blötberget and being able to deliver green concentrated iron ore to steel production, it said.

Nordic Iron Ore is evaluating different possibilities to secure the supply of electricity to Blötberget where the company has all the necessary grants to resume mining activity and extract iron ore. An important part of power supply is the power station.

The LoI will see the companies initiate exclusive negotiations regarding a solution called Electrification as a Service for the 50/12 kV system that reliable mining operations in Blötberget require. The arrangement would also include an option for a battery storage solution which would stabilise power output from the station.

Ronne Hamerslag, CEO of Nordic Iron Ore, said: “It is very satisfying that we together with Hitachi Energy can proceed and develop concrete plans and a new business model that make it possible for us to buy Electrification as a Service without the need for a capital intensive investment. This solution would reduce the business’s capital need and not only reduce our financial risk but also the installation and operational risks.”

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.

Boliden’s trolley journey continues to evolve with Kevitsa line launch

In its latest move to become the most climate friendly and respected metal provider in the world, Boliden has opened the trolley line at its Kevitsa mine in Finland.

The line, which encompasses a 1.3-km-long track, now has three Komatsu 227 t 830E-5 trucks running on it, according to Stefan Romedahl, President Business Area Mines, Boliden. “The following 10 trucks will be converted in the spring of 2023 when the in-pit trolley line will be commissioned,” he told IM.

This project aims to cut the mine’s carbon dioxide emissions, with estimates the volume of CO2 emitted could reduce by 9% over mine’s lifetime using this electrical infrastructure.

Boliden is not new to trolley operations. It started testing trucks on the Kevitsa line late last year, while its Aitik copper mine in northern Sweden ran electric-drive trucks on trolley as far back as 2018.

Following a two-year trolley assist pilot project on a 700-m-long line at Aitik – which 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 – the company, in late-2019, decided to further invest in trolley operations at Aitik. This was announced at the same time as the Kevitsa trolley plans.

Romedahl confirmed there are now 14 Caterpillar 313 t 795F ACs trucks running on a 1.7-km-long trolley line at Aitik, which will be extended as the depth of the mine increases.

Stefan Romedahl, President Business Area Mines, Boliden

While all the trucks at these two operations use diesel-powered propulsion after they come off the trolley infrastructure, Romedahl said the plan was to convert them to ‘zero emission’ solutions in the future, with a battery-trolley setup under consideration.

“Yes, this is the long-term strategy,” he said. “Boliden is working closely with our suppliers to achieve this in the upcoming years.”

With the world requiring many more mines to electrify industry, Romedahl was hopeful more of these would move towards fossil-free operation.

“At Boliden we have the vision to be the most climate friendly and respected metal provider in the world,” he said. “That is not something you can have as a vision without doing quite a lot in the field of sustainable company development. The trolley lines are one of many activities we do to reach that vision.

“For Boliden, it is crucial to perform in the direction of fossil freeness as soon as possible. The green transition can’t happen in 10 years; it needs to happen now.”

Continental expands Conveying Solutions business in Sweden with Vulk & Montage buy

Continental is expanding its presence in Sweden with the acquisition of conveyor and maintenance company, Vulk & Montage, based in Karlstad.

Vulk & Montage has four locations in Karlstad (headquarters), Örebro, Mora and Stockholm, Sweden. The company is a leading service provider for the conveyor industry in central Sweden, operating out of its four branches and one rubber workshop.

The company provides add-on products such as belts, belt scrapers, industrial hoses, screens, wear rubber, lightweight conveyor belts, technical plastics and additional services like lining (cold and hot), spraying polyurethane, sandblasting and paintwork.

“With the Vulk & Montage Group, we are able to offer an entire service and solution package in addition to the current Continental product portfolio to our industrial customers in Central Sweden,” Song Qi, who is responsible for the global business with conveyor belt system solutions at Continental, said. “The acquisition underscores again our goal of further expanding our service business directly with our customers and aligning our focus accordingly.”

Completion of the acquisition is subject to approval by the competent antitrust authorities, with the two parties agreeing not to disclose the purchase price.

Continental’s Conveying Solutions is one of the world’s leading specialists in conveying and off-highway solutions, with customers in key industries such as mining, agriculture, automotive and plant engineering.

Conveying Solutions’ goal is to respond to specific customer needs and to provide holistic and efficient solutions for every conveying task in the most environmentally friendly way possible – from plant design, production and installation to preventive maintenance and repair.

Conveying Solutions has more than 5,800 employees at 54 locations in 16 countries.

Orica’s wireless blasting tech overcomes magnetite challenges at LKAB Kiruna

A four-year collaboration between Orica and LKAB has resulted in the first production blasts using wireless initiation technology at the Kiruna iron ore mine in northern Sweden.

These blasts – charged in the middle of May and blasted in early June – are going some way to support LKAB’s safety, productivity and long-term automation objectives, according to Abhisek Roy, EMEA Head of Marketing for Orica.

It has involved an extensive amount of work to get to this blasting milestone, according to Ingemar Haslinger, Technical Services Lead Europe at Orica.

He explained: “It all started in 2018 when LKAB showed interest in our new WebGen™ wireless technology. They could see the benefits in both safety and productivity with the new way of producing the ore.”

This saw Orica go to site at the Kiruna mine in March 2018 to begin with a signal survey, testing if the company could obtain a good signal between the antenna and the in-hole receivers.

WebGen provides for groups of in-hole primers to be wirelessly initiated by a firing command that communicates through rock, water and air. This removes constraints often imposed by the requirement of a physical connection to each primer in a blast. The wireless blasting system not only improves safety – by removing people from harm’s way – but improves productivity – by removing the constraints imposed by wired connections.

It is, therefore, considered, a critical pre-cursor to automating the charging process.

To this point, WebGen has fired over 100,000 units in over 3,000 blasts globally across customer sites, Orica says.

At Kiruna, however, the process from testing to technology on-boarding was less than straightforward.

“In the area of the mine where the signal survey was completed in 2018, it was discovered that the signal could not penetrate the magnetite ore at all,” Haslinger said. “This was the first time we had encountered this and was a setback for Orica and LKAB.”

At that time, Orica did not have the localised field equipment or advanced diagnostic tools to diagnose the antenna issue, making it difficult to ascertain the root cause.

“We had to go back to our global WebGen specialists and try to understand why this was happening, which we were successfully able to do,” Haslinger said.

After dedicated work from the global team, Orica went back to Kiruna in September 2020, looking to replicate the signal survey from 2018 and use its advanced diagnostic tools to measure the antenna performance and output.

“We also had the opportunity to test the signal behaviour in the holes, as well as measure the rock properties around the antenna and the in-hole receivers,” Haslinger added.

The survey proved successful, explaining why the signal could not go through the orebody. This allowed the global WebGen team to start developing solutions to overcome the signal problem, which it was able to do in short order.

In December 2020, the Orica team was back at the underground iron ore mine to test the new solution.

“The first trials with the new solution showed positive results and the global team continued to develop that further,” Haslinger said. “In May 2021, we tried the solution in many different conditions and applications to be sure that it would work in the mine. These trials gave us a lot more knowledge about the environment and how the new solution worked.

“In 2022, we were ready to test the system in active mine operations and it has been an extensive amount of work to get us to that point.”

Development of the WebGen wireless underground blasting technology is ongoing at the Kiruna mine

Michal Gryienko, Engineer at LKAB in Kiruna, said the first two production rings were charged using WebGen in the middle of May before blasting occurred in early June. This is one of the benefits of the system, with the wireless primers able to sit dormant in the blasting profile for around 30 days prior to blast initiation.

“The results look good so far,” Gryienko said. “In total, we will blast five production rings, and the final three are planned to be blasted in September.”

Among the benefits Gryienko highlighted were the reduction in risk associated with hole priming and the possibility of detonating more blast holes due to the ability overcome damaged or unstable blasting applications.

Orica’s Roy said the collaboration between the two companies has been “fantastic”.

“Despite the challenges around transmission of signal across the magnetite orebody that is a prerequisite for a successful wireless initiation, both companies have worked as partners for the last four years, finding practical and creative solutions,” he said.

“This hopefully is the start of a long-term sustainable wireless blasting solution that supports LKAB’s safety and productivity objectives and long-term automation goals.”

Epiroc to supply Boliden’s Kristineberg and Renström mines with battery-electric, autonomous solutions

Epiroc says it has won a large order from Boliden for mining equipment, including battery-electric and automation solutions, for use at some of the company’s underground mines in Sweden.

Boliden, one of Europe’s largest mining companies, has ordered battery-electric versions of the Boomer face drilling rig, Boltec rock bolting rig and Epiroc’s largest automated Scooptram loader, the ST18, with Batteries as a Service. The ordered equipment also includes, among other machines, the Easer raiseboring rig and Epiroc’s newest production and face drilling rigs, Simba and Boomer, in the E-series.

The machines will be used at the Rävliden Kristineberg and Renström mine sites in northern Sweden. Boliden is mining zinc, copper, lead, gold, silver and tellurium at the mines.

On the Scooptram ST18 Battery, specifically, Mattias Pettersson, Global Portfolio Manager Underground Loaders, confirmed that the battery-electric machine heading to Boliden’s operations would be upgraded to Scooptram Automation. This will coincide with several other BEV customers receiving automation upgrades around the same timeframe, according to Pettersson, adding that the battery charging process will not be automated in this instance.

At Rävliden Kristineberg, Boliden and Epiroc are also involved in a project to develop and demonstrate an electric trolley truck system on a test track, with ABB being the third project partner.

The order is valued at more than SEK100 million ($9.8 million) and was booked in the June quarter of 2022.

“Boliden is focused on making its operations as safe, sustainable, and productive as possible and to produce metals with a low carbon footprint, and we are proud to support them on this journey,” Epiroc’s President and CEO, Helena Hedblom, said.

The Simba production drilling rig and the battery-electric loader Scooptram ST18 will be equipped with the 6th Sense solutions Simba Automation and Scooptram Automation. This will enable operators to control the machines remotely from the comfort of a control room, according to Epiroc. All units will be equipped with Epiroc’s telematics system, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real time.

EU competition, collaboration and connections helping Epiroc solve mining challenges

Epiroc’s start-up mentality is enabling it to continue to solve the mining industry’s biggest challenges, but it is not doing this alone, according to Katarina Öquist, R&D Manager of Technology and Innovation in the Underground Division.

Speaking ahead of her appearance at the EIT Raw Materials Summit 2022 in Berlin, Germany – taking place on May 23-25 – Öquist said access to other industry partners, academic institutes and start-ups through initiatives like EIT Raw Materials continues to help the company overcome challenges the sector throws at it.

“Specifically on the EIT Raw Materials project, there is the possibility to take in young start-ups and academic institutes, which can prove key when considering the ‘kicks‘ the funding can provide such companies and initiatives,” she said. “It is important for these young technology companies to have a connection to applications, being able to test out concepts and ideas in a real-world environment with companies like Epiroc, and, at the same time, introduce new thinking into industries such as mining.”

This wide scope of participation is increasingly required when considering the future direction of the mining industry, according to Öquist.

Katarina Öquist, R&D Manager of Technology and Innovation in Epiroc’s Underground Division

“If you look at the mining industry, and the part I am in with Epiroc, we are experiencing the biggest technology shift ever,” she said. “We are looking at electrification, autonomy and digitalisation all at the same time. All of these have interdependencies and connections in between, which make it quite complicated.

“When I started in the start-up sector some 15 years ago, you often were looking to solve one problem, but, today, you are not offering the sole solution; you must interact with a much bigger technology ecosystem.

“For this, collaboration is very important.”

In this regard, EIT Raw Materials and European Union Commission funding are more important than ever, ensuring all stakeholders are connected and focused on coming up with workable solutions for industry to achieve their lofty ambitions.

While not tied to EIT Raw Materials, the NEXGEN SIMS project is a good example to highlight here.

NEXGEN SIMS builds on the EU-sponsored SIMS (Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems) project, which aimed to demonstrate new technology and solutions for the mining industry. Running from 2017 to 2020, the SIMS project resulted in, among other things, the Epiroc line of battery-powered mining machines.

NEXGEN SIMS, meanwhile, is a consortium of 13 partners collaborating in an EU-sponsored project to develop autonomous, carbon-neutral, sustainable mining solutions, building on the SIMS success. The partners are Epiroc Rock Drills, AFRY – ÅF Digital Solutions, Agnico Eagle Finland, Boliden Mineral, Ericsson, KGHM Cuprum, KGHM Polska Miedź, K+S Minerals and Agriculture, Luleå University of Technology (LTU), LTU Business, Mobilaris MCE, OZ Minerals and RWTH Aachen University. The project, led by Epiroc, has a budget of €16 million ($16.8 million) and will run from May 2021 to April 2024.

“In the case of NEXGEN SIMS, it is built on a known partnership including new partners,” Öquist said. “After being involved with the majority of these partners since SIMS, we build from a high level of trust, which increases the possibility of success, especially concerning integration.

“Europe, in general, is very good in facilitating these type of collaborative projects that involve all segments of the innovation ecosystem – start-ups, industry partners and academics.”

According to Öquist, the NEXGEN SIMS project remains on track, with the integrations between electrification, automation and digitalisation likely to hold the most exciting outcomes for the wider mining industry.

For its part, Epiroc is also helping accelerate the development of start-ups of its own, taking stakes/interests in key technology providers and allowing them access to its much larger network.

ASI Mining, FVT Research and Mining TAG represent just a few examples here.

Öquist expanded on this with a reference to Mobilaris MCE, a company Epiroc acquired outright just last year, after five years of holding a 34% stake.

“They (Mobilaris MCE) started off in 1999 as a start-up from the telecoms business,” she said. “Due to them being in the northern part of Sweden, they tagged onto the mines and we ended up acquiring a minority interest in them.

“In the five years since, they have had a nice journey under the guise of Epiroc. They represent a local small start-up growing by going under the wings of a much larger industry partner.”

Epiroc, too, has benefitted from this collaboration, with Mobilaris MCE’s situational awareness technology recently becoming a key part of the OEM’s 6th Sense digital solution.

Not all OEMs would be willing to facilitate the growth of other companies in such a way, but Öquist, who has only been in her role with Epiroc for two years, puts this down to the company‘s unique culture.

“We call ourselves a 150-year-old start-up,” she said. “Regardless of how big we grow, that mindset remains – if someone highlights a problem, we set out to solve it through both internal and external collaboration.”

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.