State visit to the mine – LKAB showed path to sustainable future

September 9, 2021

On Thursday 9 September, LKAB opened the mine gates in Kiruna for His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, who together with the Queen is hosting a state visit by German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Ms Elke Büdenbender.

One of the purposes of the state visit is to stimulate in-depth collaborations in areas such as climate, energy and digitalisation – with a focus on innovative and sustainable solutions. LKAB, which is leading the transition of the mining industry towards a sustainable future, was one of the stops at the journey through Sweden.

“If we are to be able to meet the climate threat, a gigantic change in the industry’s value chains is required. Our industry, the iron and steel industry, alone accounts for seven percent of global emissions, while what we produce is crucial for the entire society. The theme for the visit has been about how we, together with others, can realize this and the critical minerals and metals required for Europe’s community building”, says Jan Moström, LKAB’s President and CEO.

“It is not without a certain pride that we notice the interest and commitment to the gigantic plans that LKAB has for a complete restructuring of our entire production. A conversion that will be able to help our customers in the European steel industry with their conversion and cut carbon dioxide emissions corresponding to two thirds of Sweden’s total emissions. Earlier this year, we showed that the HYBRIT technology that we developed together with SSAB and Vattenfall to make sponge iron with hydrogen works”, says Jan Moström.

Pioneering mining technology and a sustainable value chain

The visit to LKAB focused primarily on the restructuring of the iron and steel industry for a sustainable future, a change that LKAB is leading. Among other things, the visitors got to see LKAB’s future plans during the visit at a depth of 540 meters in the Kiruna mine. LKAB co-workers in various positions spoke about how a completely new mining technology is developed, where mining and underground transport will be completely carbon dioxide-free, electrified, digitized and autonomous. The Swedish high tech companies ABB and Ericsson also provided examples of digitization solutions.

“It all starts in the mine, without it the rest of our plans fall with HYBRIT, iron sponge and fossil-free steel. This is where we lay the foundation for the entire transformation and competitiveness of a completely new value chain and the climate effect it will provide. What we are creating here is a completely new world standard for mining. None of this we can do ourselves. Without it, a developed collaboration with other leading companies is required”, says Michael Palo, LKAB’s director of the business area Mining.

New technology cuts global emissions

The major restructuring of LKAB’s refinement was also presented, where the transition to hydrogen-produced sponge iron will cut carbon dioxide emissions at the customers’ plants by 35 million tonnes per year, which corresponds to three times the effect of parking all of Sweden’s passenger cars with fossil fuels for good.

In addition, plans were presented to extract critical minerals from LKAB’s ores in a circular business model. It has the potential to meet the EU with 30 percent of the need for rare earth metals, and five times Sweden’s need for cadmium-free phosphorus needed for fertilizers.

“The rare earth elements that we work to produce, circularly and fossil-free, from what today becomes waste from iron ore mining are crucial for the conversion of European industry. The green technology and electrification with wind power, batteries, etc., means a sharply increasing need for rare earth elements that are currently controlled by China, which makes it a strategic interest for Europe”, says Jan Moström.

LKAB breaking ground for climate action

Contact: Anders Lindberg, Group Media Relations Manager at LKAB, Tel: 46 (0)980 783 55.

LKAB is an international mining and minerals group that offers sustainable iron ore, minerals and special products. We are committed to developing carbon-free processes and products by 2045, leading the transformation of the iron and steel industry. Since 1890 we have developed through unique innovations and technological solutions and are driven forward by more than 4,500 employees in 12 countries. In 2020, the LKAB group had sales of about SEK 34 billion.