COP25: Industrial partnership for the carbon-free mine of the future

December 19, 2019
People sitting in front of a big screen

During the UN summit in Madrid, COP25, there was a panel debate on Sustainable Underground Mining, SUM. The aim of the seminar was to provide real examples and inspire others to cooperation projects like the one between LKAB, ABB, Epiroc, Combitech and the Volvo Group – a project to create the mine of the future together, which is carbon-free, digitalised and autonomous.

“More and more people are recognising that cooperation will be necessary to achieve the climate and sustainability goals,” says Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB.

The demand for iron ore will increase in the next few decades. There is not enough reusable scrap metal, and more ore will therefore need to be mined, for example in LKAB’s mines in Malmfälten.

But a change is necessary to reduce the environmental impact of the iron and steel industry, and efforts to make that change are currently underway in SUM. Five Swedish industrial companies have entered a partnership, which allows them to utilise the necessary expertise needed to achieve the goal of a carbon-free mine with smart, autonomous vehicles and innovative management systems, which together generate a safer working environment and increased productivity.

Increased interest in industrial partnerships

Despite tough competition from other items on the agenda of the Madrid summit, the seminar on sustainable mining drew a full house. The global interest in industrial partnerships like the one in SUM is increasing.

“Industry partnerships are key to deliver systems solutions that create prosperity for society and industry”, says Niklas Wahlberg, Vice-President, Societal Changes and Solutions, Volvo Group.

“We are proud to be part of the SUM project that will boost productivity for the mining company LKAB, improve work conditions, including safety, and benefit the environment with the objective to drive the transformation to a sustainable mining operation globally” says Anders Hedqvist, VP R&D at Epiroc.

“This is a unique project. Together, we will make mining carbon-free. The trick is to find interactive solutions where people are the focus,” says Lars Ydreskog, CEO of Combitech and digitalisation advisor. “We are working together to find new methods and smarter solutions for the sustainable mining of the future. With our knowledge of automation and electrification of underground mines, we are contributing to immediate measures to fight climate change,” says Björn Jonsson, Business Area Manager at ABB Industrial Automation, Sweden.

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Cooperation is a must

After 2030, LKAB will be prepared to break iron ore deeper in the mines of Kiruna and Malmberget, in order to secure long-term competitiveness. This requires decisions to be made already in the mid-2020s to effectuate one of Sweden’s greatest industrial investments in history. 

“Our goal is to create a completely fossil-free value chain, from mine to finished steel. We are taking on these challenges together, by having each of the SUM companies contribute their expertise. We cannot do it alone; cooperation is a must,” says Jan Moström.