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Swedish mine has more to offer, later

Open mine in Svappavaara. LKABs breakthrough Leveäniemi. Photo: LKAB Press image
Open mine in Svappavaara. LKABs breakthrough Leveäniemi. Photo: LKAB Press image
Published by
Markku Björkman - 17 Apr 2018

Mining is done in Swedish Gruvberget in northern Svappavaara, for the time being. There is more ore in the deposit to pick up. So much so that in the future it may be a subterranean mine.

When the first ointment was blown and the open-air mining Gruvberget was opened in the summer of 2010, it was the first iron ore mine opened by LKAB in 50 years.

Prices were high and the future tide was high. According to the plans, Gruvberget was the first mine of three to be opened. Leveäniemi and Mertainen would contribute to increased production and 500 new jobs in Svappavaara.

But because of the iron ore price dropped sharply, it was not so profitable to break ore in the three breakthroughs that LKAB had hoped.

After eight years, it is now being broken down in Gruvberget, all according to plan.

"We are ready for now with the break in Gruvberget. What we are planning to take out, we have expired now, we cannot remove more ore from today's breakdown, "says Anders Björnström, Head of Svappavaara mine, to Norrköpings Tidning.

But there is more ore in the deposit to pick up.

- Yes, there's quite a lot of ore in the depths, that's exciting with just Gruvberget. We still do not know how much ore, but there is good ore. Then there is an area a little further down which we have not really mapped yet. There we can make exploration drills.

The drilling has started last year and the samples are being analyzed now.

- But we already see that there is quite a lot of ore left in the depths, so it is clearly an interesting deposit," says Anders Björnström.

In order to break deeper into the same outbreak, it must be opened properly so that the ore can be accessed, which entails huge costs.

- Another option is to switch to an underground mine instead of a major breakdown. That is what we are investigating now, but as it seems now, we will not do anything about Gruvberget in the next few years. Now we are focusing on the Leveäniemigruvan.

The staff who worked in Gruvberget were transferred to Leveäniemi.

"We need more people there so we will probably solve it without losing any staff," says Anders Björnström.

This also means that the breaking rate is increased in Leveäniemi. In 2017, Gruvberget together with Leveäniemi produced 4.5 million tonnes of rye bread. Leveäniemi now increases the rate to 5.3 million tonnes in 2018.

"Demand is huge, customers scream after our ore, so we have a favourable position.

The mine in Mertainen will also be opened, but it will take 3-5 years.