Jones, TH, Jonsson, L, Bergström, J, Martikainen, A & Engberg, H 2022, 'The LKAB transformation: approaches for greater depths and a changing world', in Y Potvin (ed.), Caving 2022: Fifth International Conference on Block and Sublevel Caving
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As we approach the middle of the 2020s a few things are clear: (1) The world’s population is increasing, and along with it, the need for raw materials. (2) The planet is changing, and we need to adapt our processes to the new realities we face. (3) The demands of society require that we develop better techniques that limit our impact on the people living around us. These three challenges combine to create a ‘Perfect Storm’ for the mining industry – not only should we produce more, which requires faster rates, greater depths, and higher stresses, but we must do so with less waste and fewer emissions, while minimising seismicity and surface subsidence, all at the same time. These challenges can only be met through a total transformation of the way we operate, something that Luossavaara Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB) has accepted with open arms. The first challenge is being addressed through new mining methods and layouts developed and tested in full-scale to find new ways to produce. At expected depths of up to 1,900 m, more than 50% deeper than LKAB’s present mines, and production rates expected to be significantly higher than today’s, entirely new ideas are necessary. The second challenge is met through total electrification. This is much more than simply changing out diesel for electric, but includes new ideas about ventilation, energy storage, and redefining the very foundations of our processing technologies, a path that will reshape the entire region around the mines. The third challenge is especially important and requires finding new ways to control seismicity and subsidence and minimise the use of tailings dams, while implementing environmentally friendly techniques and holding continuous dialogue with the community to ensure all stakeholders are satisfied from day one. This paper provides a glimpse of the path LKAB is following and how we hope to reshape our industry.
Keywords: transformation; mining methods, electrification, seismicity, mine design
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