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ABB leads electrification and automation innovation as part of Sustainable Underground Mining future mine project

ABB electrification and automation knowledge and solutions have been employed in a pioneering mine of the future project, which has ultimate ambitions to demonstrate zero carbon dioxide emissions and productivity increases of 50%.

ABB has provided electrification, connected control and operations management systems, high-visualization and mobile operator workplaces as part of a global mining partnership to visualize a once-in-a-generation technology shift and reduce climate impact.

Devised by LKAB, the Sustainable Underground Mining (SUM) project has the goal of setting a new world standard for sustainable mining at great depths in partnership with ABB, Combitech, Epiroc and Sandvik. LKAB’s core business is the mining and processing of iron ore for the steel industry.

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. The collaboration aims to find new methods and smarter solutions for mining operations in the future. 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 decentralized environment with efficient use of an autonomous electrical mobile transport system in a mixed environment. Real time process information is available to all organizations 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.

Electrification and automation are two important factors for the mining industry to continue its rapid, but effective, modernization. Sharing of information and data is crucial to reach substantial end goals.

—Jan Nyqvist, Global Product Manager for Underground Mining Automation at ABB

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

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 set globally by 2030.

Background. After 2030 LKAB must be ready to mine at greater depth in its 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.

In the SUM project, 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 SUM 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 a significant investment on a national scale and the partners are therefore seeking collaboration with more suppliers, the Swedish state, research institutes and universities.

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