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ABB leads electrification and automation innovation as part of Sustainable Underground Mining future mine project

ABB electrification and automation knowledge and solutions have been employed in a pioneering mine of the future project, which has ultimate ambitions to demonstrate zero carbon dioxide emissions and productivity increases of 50 percent.

ABB has provided electrification, connected control and operations management systems, high-visualization and mobile operator workplaces as part of a global mining partnership to visualize 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 per cent and deeper mining.

ABB leads electrification and automation as part of the SUM project, image courtesy of LKAB and photographer Frederic Alm ABB leads electrification and automation as part of the SUM project, image courtesy of LKAB and photographer Frederic Alm

ABB will continue to contribute its deep 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, 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 decentralized environment with efficient use of an autonomous electrical mobile transport system in a mixed environment. Real time process information is available to all organizations 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 the future operator environment through smarter working and demonstrable results,” said Jan Nyqvist, Global Product Manager for Underground Mining Automation at ABB, and one of the leaders in the project. “Electrification and automation are two important factors for the mining industry to continue its rapid, but effective, modernization. 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.”

Overview of Kiruna mine location, image courtesy of LKAB and photographer Frederic AlmOverview of Kiruna mine location, image courtesy of LKAB and photographer Frederic Alm

ABB has a relatively large team committing time to the project, with experts in digitalization 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 Jan 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.

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a leading global technology company that energizes the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By connecting software to its electrification, robotics, automation and motion portfolio, ABB pushes the boundaries of technology to drive performance to new levels. With a history of excellence stretching back more than 130 years, ABB’s success is driven by about 110,000 talented employees in over 100 countries. www.abb.com