World-leading mining innovation
The Swedish mining and mineral industry is a driving force in technological change at a world level. The education system works in close proximity to companies and during the past five years, approximately SEK 3.5 billion has been invested in various research projects. Luleå University of Technology, LTU, is a center for education and research in the mining and minerals area in northern Europe.
A successful Swedish research and innovation climate is thus not only good for Sweden’s own industry, but we also export technology to make the industry in general safer, better and more climate efficient. Everyone wins.
Examples of development projects
Under the name HYBRIT, LKAB, SSAB and Vattenfall are working together to develop the first completely fossil-free steel. The technology means that the blast furnace process, which uses coal and coke to remove oxygen from the iron ore, is replaced by a direct reduction process where fossil-free hydrogen produced from water with electricity from fossil-free energy sources is used. Instead of carbon dioxide, water vapor is formed. HYBRIT technology has the potential to reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by at least ten percent.
The Concrete Initiative is a collaboration between construction companies, concrete and cement manufacturers, real estate companies, authorities, researchers and municipalities. The vision is that climate-neutral concrete will be on the market in 2030 and that it will be used everywhere in 2045.
LKAB, ABB, Combitech, Epiroc and Sandvik jointly run SUM – Sustainable Underground Mining, with the goal of setting a new world standard for sustainable mining at great depths in the carbon-free, digitized and autonomous mines of the future.
In LKAB’s project ReeMAP, an industrial park is planned with a world-leading standard for clean products, energy efficiency and emissions. The goal is to produce phosphorus corresponding to 5 times Sweden’s needs, 30% of today’s need for rare earth metals within the EU and up to 100% of specific REEs, fluorine for the chemical industry and medical applications, and gypsum sufficient for all construction production, through recycling and processing of mining waste in Sweden. REE is a collective name for rare earth elements.
In the Aitik mine and in the Finnish mine Kevitsa, Boliden is building electric trolley tracks for its mining trucks. The two plants will be commissioned in stages until 2022 and are estimated to reduce diesel consumption by 5,500 cubic meters per year when the investment is completed. The overhead lines that enable electric operation of the trucks consist for the most part of copper mined in Aitik. As part of the effort to reduce CO2 by 40% by 2030, Boliden has also created green copper. Kaunis Iron has the vision to develop the world’s most sustainable iron ore and is now conducting a pilot test with fossil-free electric propulsion of its heavy transports.
Cementa has a vision of cement for climate-neutral concrete by 2030. A vision that means zero carbon dioxide emissions during the lifetime of the concrete product. This must be done, among other things, with carbon dioxide separation, storage or recycling.
Epiroc, ABB, Boliden and Agnico Eagle participated in the successful project SIMS – Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems, where the focus was on tomorrow’s smart mining technology.
Sources: Svemin, SGU, Fossil Free Sweden, LTU