Tag Archives: Sweden

BluVein charges into mine electrification space

BluVein, armed with its “dynamic charging” philosophy, is pitching a different option to miners looking to electrify their underground operations over the long term.

While battery-electric machines such as light utility vehicles, mobile mining support equipment, and low-to-medium tonnage LHDs and trucks have spread throughout major mining hubs like North America, Europe and Australia, the next step is electrifying the machines with the heaviest duties in the underground mining space.

If the sector settles for battery-electric options in this weight class for uphill haulage scenarios, they will need to leverage bigger batteries, more battery swapping or some additional charging infrastructure to power vehicles up ramp.

Two of the leading mining OEMs in the electrification space are considering all the above.

Sandvik, through its wholly owned Artisan Vehicles subsidiary, is developing a 65 t payload battery-electric haul truck with a bigger battery than its 50-t vehicle (the Z50) that will see quick battery swapping employed on uphill hauls, while Epiroc is weighing the potential of fully-electric operation with a battery and trolley combination in its larger payload class trucks.

BluVein is intent on laying the groundwork for multiple OEMs and mining companies to play in this space without the need to employ battery swapping or acquire larger, heavier batteries customised to cope with the current requirements placed on the heaviest diesel-powered machinery operating in the underground mining sector.

It is doing this through adapting charging technology originally developed by Sweden-based EVIAS for electrified public highways. The application of this technology in mining could see operations employ smaller, lighter battery-electric vehicles that are connected to the mine site grid via its Rail™ and Hammer™ technology and a sophisticated power distribution unit to effectively power electric motors and charge a vehicle’s on-board batteries.

This flexible technology is set for a trial later this year, with the company – a joint venture between EVIAS and Australia-based Olitek – already busy behind the scenes enlisting a number of funding partners to push forward with a collaborative pilot aimed at demonstrating the next generation of trolley assist technology.

With this aim in mind and knowledge of previous trolley projects at underground mines, IM put some questions to BluVein Founder, James Oliver.

IM: What input does Olitek provide within BluVein? Do they produce customised prototype battery-electric machines?

JO: BluVein is a new company formed through a partnership between EVIAS and Olitek. While we are a new venture, unlike traditional start-ups, BluVein is backed by two highly experienced long-standing companies and is seeking to enable the fully-electric mine of today.

The biggest need for electric mining vehicles is in heavy-duty load and haul applications on inclined roads. In this instance, batteries on their own are not up to the task – not even close. Dynamic charging is the game-changing technology that will enable fully-electric heavy-duty load and haul on inclined roads.

In the partnership, Olitek provides the mobile vehicle, robotics, electrical and mining environment expertise to enable BluVein to operate safely and reliably in a mining environment. BluVein is currently working with a number of mining vehicle OEMs to integrate the BluVein system to suit their on-board battery and motor architecture, enabling safe dynamic charging from a standardised slotted rail system.

The joint venture does not produce customised prototype battery-electric vehicles or battery machines, and we are vehicle OEM-agnostic; we are open to working with any battery-electric vehicle manufacturer enabling standardised dynamic charging.

IM: What companies are involved in the collaboration mentioned? What is the aim of this collaboration (timelines, goals, etc)?

JO: Currently we are not able to disclose which mining companies and vehicle OEMs we are working with – it will be revealed in the not-too-distant future. They are, however, a selection of very well-known major companies from Sweden, Canada and Australia. We are open to other like-minded, early adopters to join the BluVein collaboration.

Our aim is to commence building our industry-backed technology demonstration pilot site in Brisbane, Australia, by late 2021 in a simulated underground environment. This will involve a section of BluVein rail and at least one electric vehicle fitted with the BluVein hammer system to demonstrate dynamic charging whilst hauling loaded up an incline.

IM: What are your overhead systems (BluVein Rail) providing that your typical underground trolley systems are not providing? How does the infrastructure required compare with, say, what Vale has in place at Creighton and Coleman in Sudbury for its Kiruna trucks?

JO: Existing trolley assist systems that utilise exposed high voltage conductors cannot be used in many mining jurisdictions globally due to safety concerns and an inability to comply with mining regulations. This is particularly the case in underground mines where clearance above mobile fleets is limited. The BluVein rail system is unique as all high voltage conductors are safely housed within ingress protection (IP) rated slots. This effectively mitigates against risks of accidental contact by mining personnel or the vehicles.

The safe and standardised systems allow for the charging of a vehicle’s batteries whilst simultaneously powering the electric-drive motors. This gives a battery-electric vehicle almost unlimited range and eliminates the requirement for battery swapping, downtime and charge bay infrastructure requirements.

Volvo FMX Electric with BluVein

And BluVein Rail does not need to be installed in all parts of the mine – only in the heavy-duty cycle zones such as mine declines and pit ramps. When tramming/hauling on flat gradients, mining vehicles operate on their own internal batteries. This dramatically reduces the system installation complexity and installation cost. Where the BluVein Rail terminates, the vehicle automatically disconnects and reverts to its on-board batteries for power, without stopping.

Ease of maintenance is one of our focus points for BluVein. The BluVein system is developed to handle typical mining drive terrain conditions so no special maintenance is required to cater for conductor contact relative to the vehicle. Our BluVein Hammer, an all-terrain trolley, takes care of this. This provides the connection between the mobile machinery and the BluVein slotted rail. As the vehicle moves through an inclined underground tunnel or along a pit ramp, the Hammer maintains the electrical connection even over rough road conditions. Operator assist controls, such as smart auto connect and disconnect functionality, are also incorporated.

BluVein is the ‘next generation’ of trolley assist technology with all the benefits and none of the negatives of the old systems.

IM: How long and steep an uphill climb is required, on average, to make the business case work in the favour of BluVein technology over your typical battery-only system? When does the TCO equation tip in favour of your solutions over other trolley systems on the market?

JO: Typical battery systems are super high cost when you consider the full impact of charge bay infrastructure, numerous large operating batteries per vehicle and rapid battery life decay. BluVein, however, has a relatively low capital cost in comparison as it enables smaller, lighter and lower power on-board batteries to be used that never require swapping or static charging.

Therefore, from day one, the TCO for BluVein will likely be favourable compared to typical battery-only systems, regardless of haul length.

IM: Are BluVein Hammer or BluVein Rail already installed at mine sites around the world? What models of machines have they been integrated on?

JO: The underlying technology for the BluVein Rail and Hammer has been developed over the past 11 years with EVIAS for electrified highways. BluVein is the adaptation of this technology specific to the harsh conditions found within mining.

The BluVein system has been designed to suit nearly all current mining battery-electric vehicles so that a single BluVein Rail installed in a mine can power the entire fleet, even if that fleet is comprised of mixed OEM machinery.

A working EVIAS system has been installed in an open highway setting in Sweden, but no mining applications exist at this point. As mentioned, BluVein will have a pilot site underway by the end of 2021.

IM: Given a Volvo TA15 all-electric hauler is pictured on your website, are you also working with open-pit miners on this collaboration?

JO: BluVein is not just suited to underground applications, however, initially that is the focus given the urgency around eradicating diesel emissions and particulate matter and its carcinogenic properties.

BluVein pilot site concept – simulated underground

BluVein has strong application in open-pit mining and in quarry environments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve productivity and costs. The technology can leverage all the same advantages seen underground in open-pit applications. The bonus with underground is we have free infrastructure to hang the rail from.

A number of our partner mining companies are assessing the BluVein system for both surface and underground deployments.

HYBRIT partners choose Gällivare for fossil-free sponge iron demonstration plant

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall say they are taking a new, decisive leap forward in their work on HYBRIT, with the trio selecting Gällivare, in northern Sweden, as the location of the first production plant for its fossil-free sponge iron exercise.

Industrialisation 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. The demonstration plant will be integrated with iron pellet making and is part of LKAB’s transition plan.

The goal is to expand sponge iron production to a full industrial scale of 2.7 Mt by 2030 to be able to supply SSAB, among others, with feedstock for fossil-free steel. The choice of Gällivare for the demo plant was based on a joint assessment of industrial synergies, where proximity to iron ore, logistics, an electricity supply and energy optimisation were important factors, the companies said.

There are many advantages to locating the new sponge iron plant in Gällivare, which is also near LKAB’s mining production and processing plants. Using iron ore pellets that are already warm in the process will save huge amounts of energy, according to the companies. On top of this, 30% of weight will be eliminated from transport since hydrogen gas will be used to remove the oxygen in the iron ore. Gällivare also offers good access to fossil-free electricity from Vattenfall.

Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO at SSAB (centre), said: “We are world leaders in the work to transform the steel industry and are now stepping up the pace. We are doing this for the climate, customers, competitiveness and for employment. That we are now raising ambitions for a completely fossil-free value chain is unique and a message of strength from SSAB and our HYBRIT partners. We are seeing a clear increase in demand for fossil-free steel and it is right to speed up our ground-breaking cooperation.”

Jan Moström, President and CEO at LKAB (left), said the companies are leading the transformation of the iron and steel industry.

“The whole process starts with top quality iron ore in the mine and our transition plan gives strong economies of scale that pave the way for the competitive production of fossil-free steel by our customers,” he said. “This is the greatest thing we can do together for the climate. Once we are ready, we will reduce the global emissions of our customers by 35 Mt a year, which is equivalent to triple the effect of parking all passenger cars in Sweden for good.”

At the same time as announcing the Gällivare demo plant, SSAB and LKAB have agreed to deepen their partnership to create the “most effective fossil-free steel value chain from mine to steel, to customer”, they said.

“We will support and enable each other’s transformation, with Vattenfall an enabler of the huge need for electricity and hydrogen gas,” they said. “On the back of an acceleration of HYBRIT, together with LKAB’s strategy and deeper partnership, SSAB will now explore the prerequisites to convert to fossil-free steel production in Luleå faster than planned.”

The plan to convert its Oxelösund steel works in 2025 remains unchanged, as does its goal to be the first to market, in 2026, with fossil-free steel, SSAB clarified.

Anna Borg (right), President and CEO at Vattenfall, added: “Sweden and HYBRIT have a world-leading position in making fossil-free iron- and steelmaking a reality and the initiative will now be further scaled up. That fossil-free electricity and ground-breaking processes will in principle help to eliminate climate-affecting emissions completely from iron- and steelmaking is a flagship example of Vattenfall’s strategy to enable a fossil-free life within a generation. It is now extra important that the permit processes can deliver at the same pace as fossil-free steelmaking.”

Hybrit Development AB, which is owned by SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, is developing the technology to make steel using hydrogen gas instead of coal, which will minimise climate harmful carbon dioxide emissions from production. The HYBRIT pilot plant will be able to make fossil-free sponge iron to make fossil-free steel for prototypes to customers already in 2021.

The partners claim the initiative has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10% in Sweden and 7% in Finland, as well as contribute to cutting steel industry emissions in Europe and globally.

LKAB welcomes more autonomous LHDs at Kiruna ahead of electric machine arrivals

LKAB says it is now running six autonomous LHDs at its Kiruna iron ore mine, in northern Sweden, with battery-powered and cable-electric machines set to arrive at the operation later in the year.

The company has been stepping up its automation efforts at the underground mine, going from three autonomous loaders in November to five in December and, now, six as of this month.

These loaders have come from both Sandvik and Epiroc, with at least three of these being 21 t Sandvik LH621i LHDs and two being 18 t Epiroc Scooptram ST18 LHDs.

“For the time being, the loaders are diesel-powered, but battery-powered Epiroc machines and Sandvik’s larger electric loaders will be delivered this year,” the company said. “Safety and loading capacity will be tested and assessed, so that the vision of a carbon-dioxide-free LKAB can be realised.”

Magnus Lindgren, Production Manager for the remote-control centre at level 1365 in the Kiruna mine, said: “Our operators work in close collaboration with both Sandvik and Epiroc and, thereby, take part in these suppliers’ development. We test the systems and provide feedback, so we can eventually take delivery of a better product.”

LKAB conducts blasting at the mine each night. When the blasting gases have been evacuated and rock stresses have decreased, personnel can access the production area. With remote-control machines, LKAB can load, haul and dump crude ore without having to worry as much about these considerations.

Roger Lärkmo, Engineering Developer at LKAB, added: “Autonomous loading at night is optimal in terms of both safety and work environment, and from a productivity perspective. That doesn’t mean manually-operated machines are a thing of the past; it just means that we have more tools in the toolbox. Many parameters have to be taken into the equation for our loading operations to deliver an even flow of ore to the processing plants.”

This summer, the Konsuln mine will take delivery of its first battery-powered loader, the 14 t ST14 from Epiroc. Epiroc said last month it will also deliver a Minetruck MT42 Battery for use at the main Kiruna iron ore mine for production, and in the Konsuln test mine.

Preparations are now under way for the ST14 Battery’s arrival at Konsuln, from planning of the drifts where batteries will be exchanged, to risk analyses and simulations, LKAB said.

During 2021, three of Sandvik’s larger 625IE electric loaders, which have a 25-t payload capacity, will also be delivered to LKAB in Kiruna. The company took delivery of a “renewed” Sandvik LH625iE electric loader for field testing in 2020.

Lindgren said: “LKAB has been running loaders with electric power cables for more than 20 years, both manually operated and with remote control. Now we are going to test the new generation of electric loaders. These tests will begin in the autumn.”

Anita Oraha Wardi, Project Manager for autonomous, smart and carbon-dioxide-free machines at LKAB, said the company was participating in development work early on, so it can understand and influence performance, loading capacity and, not least, the safety aspects.

“We are going to test to see how battery-driven and electric loaders compare with diesel-powered machines, and how remote-control machines function in comparison with manually-operated loaders,” she said.

“One of several objectives is that operators, regardless of the make or model of the vehicle, should be able to run remote-control vehicles via the same system and in the same production area. Then, we will be approaching a world standard.”

Sika boosts shotcrete offering for mining industry

Sika says it has further expanded additive production for shotcrete at Spånga, near Stockholm, Sweden, and upscaled to the latest-generation technology.

The new process makes it possible to deliver tailored solutions in demanding projects for customers, with the primary customer of the set accelerator, marketed under the Sigunit® brand, being the mining industry. Sika says a high level of early strength development and maximum safety in shotcrete applications is key for the mining sector.

Ivo Schädler, Regional Manager EMEA, said: “The new technology allows us to offer reliable shotcrete solutions that are tailored to customer requirements in the best possible way. Our customers include leading mining companies that sign long-term supply agreements with us. The potential for growth is not limited to Sweden alone, with mining projects in Finland and tunnel construction projects in Norway and Iceland.”

ABB ready to demonstrate electrical and automation advances at SUM project

ABB electrification and automation knowledge and solutions are being employed at LKAB’s Sustainable Underground Mining (SUM) project, as the project partners strive towards demonstrating the possibility of developing a mine with zero carbon dioxide emissions and relative productivity increases of 50%.

The company has provided electrification, connected control and operations management systems, high-visualisation and mobile operator workplaces as part of this project, which also involves Combitech, Epiroc and Sandvik. It is now looking to connect electrical and automation systems that have so far been developed and leverage these in a demonstration workshop as part of the project’s next phase.

Devised by LKAB, the SUM project has the goal of setting a new world standard for sustainable mining at great depths. The framework outlines ambitions for zero carbon dioxide emissions, completely safe mines for humans, productivity increases of 50% and deeper mining.

ABB will continue to contribute its deep knowledge in electrification, automation and workplaces together with other suppliers to the mining industry, it said.

Test work in LKAB’s Kiruna mine, northern Sweden, as well as a virtual test mine will study the best way to build a carbon dioxide free and autonomous production system.

“Within the mine, the Konsuln orebody is used to demonstrate future workplaces in a decentralised environment with efficient use of an autonomous electrical mobile transport system in a mixed environment,” ABB said. “Real-time process information is available to all organisations involved. When combined with the wider efforts of the SUM partnership, this shows a way of bringing completely new technology solutions to market for safer, more sustainable and more efficient mining production processes.”

Jan Nyqvist, Global Product Manager for Underground Mining Automation at ABB, and one of the leaders in the project, said: “We are taking significant strides towards a vision of the future operator environment through smarter working and demonstrable results. Electrification and automation are two important factors for the mining industry to continue its rapid, but effective, modernisation. Sharing of information and data is crucial to reach substantial end goals.”

He added: “It is becoming increasingly common for suppliers to create dedicated collaboration groups to reach the best possible solutions for their customers. Collective successes and progress and the meeting of key targets for SUM, are initial evidence of the mutual benefits of collaboration.”

ABB has a relatively large team committing time to the project, with experts in digitalisation and research, as well as electrification and automation.

“ABB is integral to the next step, which is to build a demonstration workshop to connect electrical and automation systems that have so far been developed for this challenging project,” Nyqvist said. “We will, through various developed scenarios, be able to show how the systems work together.”

By 2022, the ABB electrification and automation solutions will be fully installed, and the aim is that a new standard for mining production will be displayed at the project by 2030.

LKAB leveraging Sandvik, Epiroc autonomous loading solutions at Kiruna

Autonomous operations are stepping up at LKAB’s Kiruna asset, in northern Sweden, with the underground iron ore mine adding another two autonomous loaders to its fleet this month.

The company says new technological solutions leveraging automation and digitalisation are needed as mining proceeds to ever greater depths at Kiruna.

“We are already operating three automated loaders, and, in December, we will scale up to five units,” Mikael Winsa, Production Manager at Kiruna, said.

LKAB is well acquainted with automated and remote loading, having started using this technology all the way back in 2000.

Magnus Lindgren, Production Manager for Remote Operations, says: “The infrastructure is much better today and there are better conditions for doing it really well. All of the components to make this work, for example, the network, are now more mature and stable.” Lindgren has been with LKAB since 1994 and worked with the first driverless loaders when they were introduced.

Today three 21 t Sandvik LH621i loaders are operated from a control room at level 1365 in the mine. Sandvik also provides the software that makes it possible to control the machines at some distance from the production area.

Winsa added: “The traffic system has revolutionised automated loading. It allows us to run several machines at the same time, in the same area, and back and forth to the same destination. This is a great leap forward in terms of technology and development.”

The automation system, Sandvik’s AutoMine® Multi-Lite, enables greater flexibility by creating better prerequisites for increasing production, LKAB says.

“We can boost production in one area from around 3,000 t to 5,000 t, since we can run more machines, even at night time,” Winsa says.

This mean significantly more buckets of ore can be hauled over a 24-hour period; something not possible after blasting with conventional loaders, since personnel cannot be exposed to blasting gases.

Lindgren says: “In some ways, this is a completely new approach to loading and production. It is very exciting to take part in this journey and contribute to a solution for mining at greater depth.”

Lindgren said the company is also in the initial phase of launching Epiroc’s remote loading system: “The system is now being fine-tuned and we plan to commission the traffic system early in the new year.”

The automated loaders navigate through the drifts safely and efficiently, according to LKAB. Cameras are installed at the front and back of the machine, which means the operator can follow the loading progression in real time. In addition, one operator can run several machines simultaneously.

“We are able to increase both availability and production by operating more automated loaders,” Lindgren said. “But this doesn’t mean that the manually-operated machines have outlived their usefulness. It just means that we have more tools in our toolbox.”

And the flexibility this enables is the key to mining the Kiruna orebody at greater depth, not least after the seismic event that occurred on May 18, which affected several of the production areas. This has meant fewer areas must produce more ore. In that context, automated loaders are a necessity.

Winsa concluded: “We are always taking small steps forward. It feels like we’ve crossed a threshold and can see many new possibilities leading into the future.”

ABB to help deliver Talga’s vertically integrated lithium-ion battery anode plan

Talga Group says it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ABB to support the development and construction of its Vittangi Anode project, in northern Sweden.

Talga is constructing a scalable battery anode production facility and integrated graphite mining operation in northern Sweden, using 100% renewable electricity to supply ultra-low emission coated anode for, it says, greener lithium-ion batteries. The anode refinery is expected to commence production in 2023.

Under the MoU, ABB will use its industrial automation and electrification expertise to develop and co-ordinate an extensive suite of production control and process solutions for Talga’s vertically integrated lithium-ion battery anode operations.

In addition, ABB will work together with Talga and its partners to provide engineering support for the Vittangi Anode project definitive feasibility study, due for completion March 2021, with the intent to execute binding agreements for construction and operations in future.

Talga, Mitsui and LKAB recently signed a Letter of Intent that could see the three jointly develop the project.

Talga Managing Director, Mark Thompson, said: “ABB is at the forefront of industrial automation and electrification, and we are very pleased to have their support as we continue to execute on our plan to build Europe’s largest Li-ion battery anode production facility for more sustainable batteries.”

Björn Jonsson, Hub Division Manager North Europe, Process Industries, ABB, said: “Supporting the development of Talga’s Vittangi Anode project provides us with an additional opportunity to showcase ABB’s leadership in industrial automation and smart electrification, applied towards construction of key operations for the emerging European battery supply chain.

“This is another milestone for us and our customers in our aim for more sustainable operations and a fossil fuel free society.”

LKAB plots carbon-free pathway with direct reduced iron switch

LKAB has presented its new strategy for the future, setting out a path to achieve net-zero carbon emissions from its own processes and products by 2045, while securing the company’s operations with expanded mining beyond 2060.

Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB, said the plan represented the biggest transformation in the company’s 130-year history, and could end up being the largest industrial investment ever made in Sweden.

“It creates unique opportunities to reduce the world’s carbon emissions and for Swedish industry to take the lead in a necessary global transformation,” he said.

The strategy sets out three main tracks for the transformation:

  • New world standard for mining;
  • Sponge iron (direct reduced iron) produced using green hydrogen will in time replace iron ore pellets, opening the way for a fossil-free iron and steel industry; and
  • Extract critical minerals from mine waste: using fossil-free technology to extract strategically important earth elements and phosphorous for mineral fertiliser from today’s mine waste.

The transformation is expected to require extensive investments in the order of SEK10-20 billion ($1.2-2.3 billion) a year over a period of around 15 to 20 years within LKAB’s operations alone. The company said the new strategy was a response to market developments in the global iron and steel industry, “which is undergoing a technology shift”.

The move could cut annual carbon dioxide emissions from the company’s customers worldwide by 35 Mt, equivalent to two thirds of Sweden’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions, it said.

Developments under the HYBRIT project, in which SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall are collaborating on a process to enable the reduction of steel from iron ore using hydrogen instead of carbon, will be keenly observed following the miner’s announcement.

On top of this collaboration, LKAB is working with Sandvik, ABB, Combitec, Epiroc and several other industry leaders to develop the technology that will enable the transition to fossil-free, autonomous mines, it said.

Moström added: “The market for iron and steel will grow and, at the same time, the global economy is shifting towards a carbon-free future. Our carbon-free products will play an important part in the production of railways, wind farms, electric vehicles and industrial machinery.

“We will go from being part of the problem to being an important part of the solution.”

The market for steel is forecasted to grow by 50% by 2050. This growth will be achieved by an increase in the upgrading of recycled scrap in electric arc furnaces, according to LKAB. Today, the iron and steel industry accounts for more than a quarter of industrial emissions and for 7% of the world’s total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to an IEA report.

The company said: “The global market price for recycled scrap is now twice that of iron ore pellets. The carbon-free sponge iron that will in time replace iron ore pellets as LKAB’s main export product is suitable for arc furnaces, allowing the company to offer industries throughout the world access to carbon-free iron.”

Moström said the switch from iron ore pellets to carbon-free sponge iron was an important step forward in the value chain, increasing the value of its products at the same time as giving customers direct access to “carbon-free iron”.

“That’s good for the climate and good for our business,” he said. “This transformation will provide us with good opportunities to more than double our turnover by 2045.”

During the transformation period, LKAB will supply iron ore pellets in parallel with developing carbon-free sponge iron.

To reach the new strategy’s goals, rapid solutions must be found for various complex issues, according to the company. These include permits, energy requirements and better conditions for research, development and innovation within primary industry.

Moström said: “Our transformation will dramatically improve Europe’s ability to achieve its climate goals. By reducing emissions primarily from our export business, we will achieve a reduction in global emissions that is equivalent to two-thirds of all Sweden’s carbon emissions. That’s three times greater than the effect of abandoning all cars in Sweden for good.

“It’s the biggest thing we in Sweden can do for the climate.”

Göran Persson, Chairman of the Board of LKAB, said: “What Swedish industry is now doing, spearheaded by LKAB, is to respond to the threatening climate crisis with innovation and technological change. In doing so, we are helping to secure a future for coming generations. This will also create new jobs in the county of Norrbotten, which will become a hub in a green industrial transformation. Succeeding in this will create ripples for generations to come. Not just here, but far beyond our borders.

“Now we are doing, what everyone says must be done.”

Eurobattery Minerals and Uppsala University to continue battery minerals extraction work

Eurobattery Minerals AB, a mining and exploration company with a vision to help Europe become self-sufficient in ethically-sourced battery minerals, has announced an extension of its ongoing collaboration with Uppsala University, in Sweden.

The company has supported the university in its application to the Swedish innovation agency, Vinnova, for a project that focuses on new and modern methods of extracting rare earth elements (REE) from the shales in Fetsjön and other apatite-rich discoveries in Sweden.

As part of this project, Eurobattery Minerals will provide both mineralised samples from Fetsjön, as well as financial funding, it said. Vinnova is expected to announce its decision at the beginning of spring 2021.

Scientists from the Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University have figured out an efficient way of extracting REE from phosphates typically located in black shales, such as in Fetsjön, according to Eurobattery Minerals. The next step is to create a small experimental plant and run university-led REE beneficiation experiments on a larger scale.

“We are thrilled to continue to support the scientists at Uppsala University,” Roberto García Martínez, CEO of Eurobattery Minerals, said. “In Fetsjön, we know from previous comprehensive drilling and analyses that the REE level in the black shales is high. As critical components to the electric revolution, we are interested in finding efficient and sustainable methods to obtain those minerals from our projects.”

The project is headed by Dr Jaroslaw Majka, Associate Professor in Metamorphic Petrology at the Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University.

Dr Majka said: “We are excited about the possibility to conduct larger-scale testing of this new industrialised method for extracting rare earth elements. We believe that it will enable more efficient and sustainable extraction of these key components in electric vehicles and other battery-run equipment.”

LKAB warms to Sandvik’s ‘renewed’ LH625iE as second electric LHD heads to Kiruna

Having been on a journey to electrify its operations with Sandvik since the mid-1980s, LKAB says the latest addition to its electric fleet, a Sandvik LH625iE, is performing well at its flagship Kiruna iron ore mine in northern Sweden.

The company took delivery of the “renewed” Sandvik LH625iE electric loader for field testing earlier this year and, according to Per Brännman, Section Manager for sublevel caving at LKAB in Kiruna, the machine’s performance has picked up recently after some adjustments, mainly to the cable reeling system.

“It has completed 350 hours without any error codes or stops, and loaded over 140,000 t of crude iron ore,” he said.

The machine in question is operating down on block 15, level 1022, at the iron ore mine, and the company is expecting to put another LH625iE into action on this level in early November.

“The future looks bright and carbon dioxide free,” Brännman said.

The underground loader, which features a 9.5 cu.m bucket and 25,000 kg payload capacity, is designed specifically to operate in the world’s largest underground iron ore mine. It comes with a total length of 14 m, bucket width of 4 m and cabin height of 3 m.

The basic LH625iE design is well-proven (and based on the LH625E), according to Sandvik, with the equipment manufacturer delivering electric loaders powered by a trailing cable for more than 35 years.

In addition to using the proven design and robust structures, Sandvik says its LH625iE belongs to its i-series, featuring advanced technology, the latest digital solutions and smart connectivity. This sees the new Sandvik LH625iE equipped with Sandvik Intelligent Control System and My Sandvik Digital Services Knowledge Box™ as standard. To use the payload capacity it offers, the loader can also be fitted with Sandvik’s Integrated Weighing System, as well as AutoMine® and OptiMine® solutions, Sandvik said.