500 new jobs when LKAB extracts critical minerals from mine waste

October 19, 2021

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén's visit to Luleå today had the theme of new industrialisation and new green jobs in the north. Leif Boström, Senior Vice President, Business Area Special Products, disclosed that LKAB's investment in extracting phosphorus and rare earth elements will create more than 500 jobs.

“500 jobs, they just keep coming! Imagine that a few years ago they said that the industry would soon be gone. Now Sweden is leading the climate change. The whole world is watching Sweden and the Luleå, Boden and Skellefteå region”, Stefan Löfvén commented during the presentations of LKAB’s and other plans.

Waste as a source

The existing mines are a prerequisite for LKAB, which plans to extract apatite concentrate from the residual products of iron ore mining and further process that to phosphorus mineral fertiliser, and in the process also extract REE’s, fluorine and gypsum.“We don’t have to operate a dedicated mine; that is the strength of the circular business model where we get the phosphorus and rare earth elements as a bonus from the iron ore mining. But it requires innovative processing and value-added beneficiation to take steps forward in the value chain,” Leif Boström explains.

Major investments in Sweden

For LKAB, this will mean major investments but also new exciting products and markets. In direct connection to the mines in Kiruna and Malmberget, two apatite plants will be built. The apatite concentrate is produced here. It is then transported by LKAB’s system train to the coast and the chemical engineering industrial park, where it is further processed into phosphorus, rare earth elements, fluorine and gypsum. Where the industrial park will be built has not yet been decided, two main alternatives being investigated are Luleå and Skellefteå.“We have received a very good reception and help from both municipalities. But this is not a competition. We will present our alternatives and final recommendation to the board when the feasibility study is completed next spring. Then we decide on the next step in an investment that can exceed 10 billion SEK and create 500 jobs. Environmental performance, permits, logistics, finances and hard facts will determine where we locate the industrial park,” explains Leif Boström.

Pursuit of competence

A challenge that LKAB shares with many other companies in northern Sweden is the pursuit of competence.“We will recruit new types of skills when we build a completely new type of industry. Chemical engineers, agronomists and metallurgists, for example. This will be an attractive project where you have the chance to build something from scratch, become part of a circular and climate-efficient business model and provide Sweden and Europe with critical minerals,” concludes Leif Boström.

Facts about LKAB’s planned extraction of critical minerals