Kaunisvaara iron ore mine is situated 100km north of the Arctic Circle in Norrbotten, Sweden. The mine is 100% owned and operated by Canadian mining company Northland Resources. It comprises two iron ore deposits, Sahavaara and Tapuli, located four kilometres apart.
The definitive feasibility study of the mine was completed in September 2010. Development of the mine is on track, with production scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2012. The first shipment is expected in 2013.
Northland Resources signed three off-take agreements with Tata Steel, Stemcor and Standard Bank in 2010, to sell the production from Kaunisvaara for at least seven years.
Metso was awarded a six-year contract worth €50m ($65.3m) by Northland Resources in March 2012 to provide maintenance and inspection services to the Kaunisvaara processing facility.
Geology of the Kaunisvaara’s two deposits, Sahavaara and Tapuli
The Kaunisvaara iron ore deposit lies eight to ten metres below the wetlands of the Karelian Craton area. It is covered with glacial till, gravel and sand. The magnetite deposits are hosted in the thrust fault zones. Gabbro, diabase and granitic intrusive rocks are found in the region.
The Sahavaara deposit hosts sedimentary rocks which are dipping 500 to 700 west. The hanging wall of the rock formation comprises quartzite and the footwall consists of graphitic schist.
The Tapuli deposit is a stratabound planar structure hosting Precambrian supracrustal sedimentary rocks. Proven and probable reserves at the mine are estimated at 164.9 million tons (mt) graded at 32.74% Fe as of June 2011.
The Sahavaara deposit comprises 397mt (ore: 101mt and waste: 296mt) of mineable resources. The Tapuli deposit contains 475mt (ore: 75mt and waste: 400mt) of mineable resources at average strip ratio of 1:3:95.
Mineralisation of Northland Resources’ Swedish mine project
The Sahavaara deposit contains high grade magnetite, pyrrhotite, pyrite, serpentine and tremolite. Other gangue minerals include phlogopite, diopside, chlorite, talc, valleriite, chalcopyrite, graphite, scapolite, vesuvianite and apatite.
The Tapuli deposit contains high grade magnetite and low grade chalcopyrite, pyrite, pyrrhotite and tochilinite.
Open-pit mining at Sweden’s Kaunisvaara iron ore mine
The Kaunisvaara iron ore project is scheduled to be mined through two open cut pits at the Sahavaara and Tapuli deposits.
Ore will be extracted through drilling, blasting, loading and hauling. The drilling and blasting will be carried out on 12m high benches to remove the overburden. Excavators will extract and load the ore into 228t rigid body haul trucks.
Haul trucks will carry and dump the ore at the crushing station situated adjacent to the exit of each pit. The crushed ore will be transferred to the processing plant built near the Tapuli pit by an overland conveyor system.
Mining equipment utilised will include two O&K RH340 electric front shovels, 12 Caterpillar 226t 793F haul trucks, Caterpillar 994F wheel loaders, graders and dozers.
Ore processing contracts awarded by Northland Resources
Peab was awarded a $125m contract by Northland Resources in May 2011 to build the processing plant and related infrastructure at the Kaunisvaara project. The works are scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2012. Rautaruukki will execute part of the works under a €13m ($17m) subcontract by Peab.
The processing plant, with a rated capacity of 12mtpa, will feature two streams, namely Stream 1 and Stream 2. Each stream will process 6mtpa at a nominal processing rate of 761tph. Stream 1 will process ore conveyed from the Tapuli pit while the second will treat ore recovered from the Sahavaara deposit.
The primary crusher will crush and blend the ore into stockpiles. Stockpiled ore will be grinded in the primary and secondary milling circuits. Ground ore will be transferred to the magnetic separation circuit to separate sulphides from magnetite, which will be further processed at the reverse flotation circuit. The magnetite will be dewatered and filtered to produce final tailing thickens of 69% pure Fe.
Metso was awarded a $293m contract by Northland Resources in April 2011 to supply processing equipment and services for the Tapuli and Sahavaara process lines. Deliveries are expected to commence in mid-2012.
Paakkola Conveyors was contracted by Metso in July 2011 to supply overland conveyor systems to the mine. The deliveries will begin in 2012.
Transporting and handling processed ore from the Kaunisvaara mine
Northland Resources will initially transport the processed ore by the existing roads (150km) to Svappavaara, from where it will be transported via rail to the Port of Narvik in Norway.
Trains will be de-iced before being unloaded and the concentrates will be reloaded on Capesize vessels at the Norwegian port. From the port the ore will be exported to international customers on ships.
Northland Resources signed a deal with the Port of Narvik in August 2011 to lease a portion of the port area for operating a new iron ore terminal. The permission to build the terminal was received in December 2011. The terminal can load vessels up to 180,000t and will feature a quay, an unloading facility for the railcars, a storage building and a ship loader.