ABB leads sustainable underground mining project

ABB Australia Pty Ltd

Thursday, 21 January, 2021


ABB leads sustainable underground mining project

ABB has provided electrification, connected control and operations management systems, visualisation and mobile operator workplaces as part of a global mining partnership to realise 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. 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 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 in 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 decentralised environment with efficient use of an autonomous electrical mobile transport system in a mixed environment. Real-time process information is available to all organisations 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.

“We are taking significant strides towards a vision of a future operator environment through smarter working and demonstrable results,” said Jan Nyqvist, Global Product Manager for Underground Mining Automation at ABB. “Electrification and automation are two important factors for the mining industry to continue its rapid but effective modernisation. Sharing of information and data is crucial to reach substantial end goals.

“It is becoming increasingly common for suppliers to create dedicated collaboration groups to reach the best possible solutions for their customers. Collective successes and progress, and the meeting of key targets for SUM, are initial evidence of the mutual benefits of collaboration.”

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

“ABB is integral to the next step, which is to build a demonstration workshop to connect electrical and automation systems that have so far been developed for this challenging project,” said Nyqvist. “We will, through various developed scenarios, be able to show how the systems work together.”

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.

Image: Overview of the Kiruna mine location. Source: LKAB, Frederic Alm.

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