The iron of tomorrow is mined with ones and zeros

December 6, 2022

From three large screens in a control room to a mobile phone in the mine. When the mine operations control of the future is developed, the focus is on mobility, safety and collaboration.

Locomotive in workshop.
LKAB is one of the companies leading the development of the digitalised mine. Photo: Fredric Alm

A lot is happening when it comes to the digitalisation of mining, and LKAB is one of the companies that is at the forefront and leading the development. Right now, more or less everything in the mine is being digitalised. In Konsuln, LKAB’s test mine in Kiruna, experiments are underway to, among other things, develop our existing control rooms, but also making the control environments available on mobile devices.
”In the end, we may not even have physical control rooms. We don’t know that today. The important thing is not that information is visible in a control room, but that it helps us do our jobs as well as possible”, says Mikael Winnebäck, who works as a project manager at the Digitalisation and IT department at LKAB.
”We talk a lot about information dominance, that we would rather know too much than too little. Regardless of where you are at what time, you as an employee should be able to easily find out everything you need to know in any given situation”.

In 2021, initial field tests of the new control environment were carried out, which, in addition to making information more accessible, is also built to provide a good user experience. It should be easy, and preferably also fun, to both learn and use the work tools. A decentralised control environment can provide a better overview of the business, but also increases the possibilities for better collaboration with internal and external employees. The aim is to strengthen the ability of those working in the mine to plan and make the right decisions at the right time, while using resources smarter.

The first tests took just over a year to prepare and touched on three areas:

Visualisations of sensor values ​​and positions are important both for planning operations and ensuring safety in the event of accidents and other incidents. Through a digital tool that shows sensor values ​​and how many people are in an area, the work can become more effective. The LKAB developed Simulation Mine Idea Test Environment tool visualises the Konsuln test mine in both two- and three-dimensional views.