ABB is providing electrification, connected control, and operations management systems as part of the global mining partnership, which also includes mining firm Epiroc, engineering company Sandvik, and technology consultancy Combitech.

The project is conducting test work in LKAB’s Kiruna mine in northern Sweden, as well as a virtual test mine study to optimise the design of a carbon dioxide-free and autonomous production system.

The framework also targets completely safe mines for humans and deeper mining explorations.

ABB global product manager for underground mining automation Jan Nyqvist said: “We are taking significant strides towards a vision of the future operator environment through smarter working and demonstrable results.

“Electrification and automation are two important factors for the mining industry to continue its rapid, but effective modernisation. Sharing of information and data is crucial to reach substantial end goals.”

The Konsuln orebody within the Kiruna mine is used to demonstrate future workplaces in a decentralised way with effective use of an autonomous electrical mobile transport system in a mixed environment.

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Real time process information is available to all organisations involved, which demonstrates a way of bringing new technology solutions to the market for safer, more sustainable, and more efficient mining production.

“It is becoming increasingly common for suppliers to create dedicated collaboration groups to reach the best possible solutions for their customers. Collective successes, progress, and the meeting of key targets for SUM are initial evidence of the mutual benefits of collaboration,” Nyqvist said.

As part of the project’s next step, ABB will build a demonstration workshop to connect electrical and automation systems that have so far been developed for the project.

“We will, through various developed scenarios, be able to show how the systems work together,” Nyqvist said.

The partners are also seeking cooperation with other suppliers, research institutes, and universities to improve results.

ABB’s electrification and automation part of the project is expected to be installed by 2022.