Authors: Sormunen, MEO; Esberg, C; Saiang, D

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Sormunen, MEO, Esberg, C & Saiang, D 2023, 'First geomorphic site in Scandinavia—current status', in B Abbasi, J Parshley, A Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2023: Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth,

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LKAB’s mine site at Svappavaara, located circa 100 km north of the arctic circle, is currently producing iron ore from the Leveäniemi open pit mine. Extraction from the Leveäniemi open pit began in 2015 and the expected mine life is until 2035. The production volumes vary between 7-9 Mtons of ore and 6-9 Mtons of waste rock and dry screen waste per year. The total amount of waste rock and dry waste from the open pit and the screening plant to be deposited is circa 160 Mton for the life of mine. The current permitted waste rock storage area covers approximately 280 hectares and is surrounded by protected nature areas and reindeer migration routes. In 2021 a conceptual geomorphic design was delivered at the Svappavaara. The phase 1 landform design outcome demonstrated it was possible to construct a fluvial, geomorphic-based landform within the permit boundary and at on maximum elevation that could integrate the existing deposit and accommodate the volume from the previous and the current mining operations at the Leveäniemi open pit. The design output was based on GeoFluv method which uses geomorphic principles to provide a long-term stable landform that would allow LKAB to meet their closure goals for the site. The construction of the first geomorphic test site containing approximately 1.4 Mton of waste rock and a 4.3 hectares area was started in October 2021. The construction included moving the waste material from the operations with mine trucks and forming the designed landscape using bulldozers. The cover layer consisting of till, topsoil, seeds, and other organic materials were purposely excluded at this phase. In June 2022 the forming of the landscape was completed, and the site was left to settle for a year before applying the final cover layer. In 2023 an adjacent reference site designed with a conventional bench and berm method according to LKAB´s current permit conditions will be constructed. This will include the cover layer, which will also be according to the permit. The establishment of the test site and reference site will enable for relevant comparison of the long-term performance between geomorphic landscape and conventional waste rock storage. Monitoring equipment will be installed, and respective performances will be evaluated in terms of erosion (sediment yield), run-off water quality and re-establishment of vegetation. The monitoring and evaluation will be undertaken as part of the Waste2Place project, which is funded by Sweden’s Innovation Agency and supported by Swedish Mining Innovation. This paper discusses mining at the Svappavaara site including current closure plans, the geomorphic investigations undertaken at the site including the construction of the test site and monitoring plans for the sites discussed above. The authors also discuss waste management in reference to mine closure and importantly as a pre-requisite for continued and future mining operations at Svappavaara.

Keywords: waste management, landscape monitoring, geomorphic landscape, LKAB, Svappavaara

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