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A new world standard for sustainable mining

The sustainable mining of the future

LKAB is running a collaboration project together with ABB, Combitech, Epiroc and Sandvik with the aim of setting a new world standard for mining at great depths.

The mine of the future is carbon-dioxide-free, digitalized and autonomous. LKAB has in June 2018 initiated an industrial development project together with ABB, Epiroc, Combitech and Volvo Group to set a new world standard for sustainable mining at great depth. In September 2020 Volvo Group decided to leave the collaboration and Sandvik stepped in as a new partner. Reaching the goals in this project will demand a new type of collaboration, a digital ecosystem in which the partners' digital systems and operations are linked.

After 2030 LKAB must be ready to mine at greater depth in the Kiruna and Malmberget mines. For this, one of Sweden's biggest industrial investments ever, decisions will have to be taken in the mid-2020s. The sustainable mine of the future requires new control systems, new and improved mining equipment, as well as complex and efficient management systems that meet future demands for a sustainable industry.

Together with our four partners we will create a unique testbed in the LKAB’s underground mines in Kiruna and Malmberget and will also take the form of a virtual mine. Here, new technology will be developed and tested in a real mining environment to ensure that the Swedish mining industry can remain competitive and create jobs and growth, both locally in Norrbotten and nationally.

The goal of the collaboration is to find new methods and smarter solutions for future mining. Within the framework of the testbed the best means of building an efficient autonomous production system that is carbon-dioxide-free and has the highest conceivable level of safety will be studied. In the future autonomous and digitalized mine people and machines will work side by side. The virtual test mine allows to simulate data flows and scenarios, which cannot be tested in the physical testbed.

Implementation of the project will require very significant investment on a national scale and the partners are therefore seeking collaboration with more suppliers, the Swedish state, research institutes and universities.

The project briefly

The sustainable mining industry of the future
Everyone will need to mine deeper, we develop the solution.

Unique partnership in Swedish industry
Large industrial companies join forces in an open and transparent collaboration.

Testbed and virtual mine
Technology is developed and tested in a real mining environment as well as in a virtual test mine.

Full utilization of digitalization
A digital ecosystem in which the partners' digital systems and operations are linked. People in focus.  

Dramatically reduced environmental impact
Carbon-dioxide-free production.

Time plan

The work is divided into three phases:

  • Construction of testbed and launch of pilot attempt, 2018–2022.

  • Decision on future main levels and facility in industrial scale, 2022–2030.

  • New world standard for sustainable mining deeper in LKAB’s underground mines, 2030–2060.