Autonomous vehicles, electrification and automation with a focus on people

LKAB´s current main levels in the mines in Kiruna and Malmberget will provide ore up to 2035 and 2030 respectively. The Leveäniemi open cut mine will deliver ore up to 2030. A decision whether to go deeper and how this is to be achieved must be made in the mid 2020s. Working with SUM in the LKAB test mine Konsuln is crucial.

The mine of tomorrow is carbon dioxide-free, digitalised and autonomous. LKAB is taking a completely new approach to the development of the mine of the future. Activity in Konsuln increases each week.

“Tunnelling continues, with a head start of 414 metres in December and 391 metres in January. This rate is necessary in order to complete the overall project plan. We start test drilling boreholes in June that will be 40 metres per slab. The incline will reach level 486 by the end of March so that we can open a new level for testing. We have also improved our pumping systems”, says Mike Lowther, responsible for the test mine in Konsuln.

In order to achieve a result that is viable after 2030, collaboration will be the key to success. LKAB will set a new world standard for sustainable mining at great depths together with ABB, Epiroc, Combitech and the Volvo group.

“We are proud to be part of this collaboration for developing the most modern mining operation in the world. Epiroc is contributing with battery-powered, autonomous and efficient mining machines and related solutions, which will ensure increased productivity and safety in LKAB mines”, says Ulla Korsman Kopra, Automation Manager at Epiroc.

Electrification and automation

ABB works primarily with two areas in SUM; the first is electrification, building energy-efficient systems that enable electric underground vehicles. This solution includes new technology from network to vehicle, provided by Epiroc and Volvo, and includes battery solutions and flexible electrical infrastructure.

“We’re proud of this collaboration between companies in SUM. ABB supplies products that assist in the electrification of Epiroc’s powertrain with motors and drive systems, as well as charging infrastructure for Volvo’s electric vehicles”, says Björn Jonsson, Head of Industrial Automation Division Sweden, ABB.

The second concerns the delivery of automation platforms. ABB currently has over 70,000 automation systems installed around the world, many in the mining industry. Combitech’s role will also be involved in the fields of automation and digitisation.

”We contribute with our expertise and experience of tying together autonomous processes and people through digital ecosystems,” says Lars Ydreskog, Vice President at Combitech.

Autonomous vehicles

The Volvo Group’s contribution to SUM is to develop driverless, electric powered trucks to transport the ore out of the mine. Previously, trucks have been able to be autonomous but the major efficiencies that new technologies offer are based on solutions where several partners need to collaborate.

”We are still at an early stage in the development of driverless, electric and connected vehicles. Although we have come a long way, there remains a lot of technological development. Just to give an example, we must learn how Epiroc’s machines and ours can communicate with each other when testing autonomous loading within the framework of SUM”, says Niklas Wahlberg, Vice President Societal Challenges & Solutions, the Volvo Group.