"Fossil-free mining is possible in Sweden"
The Swedish mining and mineral industry currently accounts for about 8 percent of Sweden's carbon dioxide emissions. The mining industry itself can be switched to completely fossil-free operations quickly. But the whole shift requires heavy investments, which we already have done, writes representatives of the mining industry.
Sweden will be one of the world's first fossil-free welfare nations. An industrial transformation where large parts of the business community develop its competitiveness by being fossil-free before 2045 is now about to be created.
As evidence that this is not just a high flying vision, nine industries will hand over their roadmap for fossil freedom and increased competitiveness to the Prime Minister and the climate minister on April 25. The roadmaps developed within the framework of Fossilfri Sweden show a concrete and handy way of how the conversion in Sweden is going to be. More industries are now launching processes for further roadmaps that will be handed over to the sitting government in autumn or spring 2019.
A roadmap shows how the Swedish steel industry will be the first in the world with fossil-free steel, another how the cement industry will develop climate-neutral cement at Slite on Gotland. And in the roadmap of the Swedish mining and mineral industry, it is noted that the world's first fully fossil-free mine can be in place before 2035.
The Swedish mining and mineral industry, which today accounts for about 8 percent of Sweden's carbon dioxide emissions, will play a very important role in a fossil-free future, both in Sweden and globally. The switch to fossil-free energy systems and transport, climate neutral construction and increased recycling are all dependent on the metals and minerals needed for the development of modern car batteries, energy storage and new railways. Durable batteries produced with eco-labelled raw materials will be an important facilitator for electrification and a competitive advantage for Sweden.
The mining industry itself can be switched to completely fossil-free operations quickly. In the short term, it is about continuing the electrification, streamlining the transport work and using biodiesel for all diesel-powered engines and machines. By 2035 all internal transport and all mining operations in the mines will be fossil free. But the electrification of the underground work machines is fast and it is profitable already.
Paradoxically, electricity consumption in some parts of the mines reduces when electrification increases. Because electric vehicles do not emit any exhaust gases, the ventilation system, which today draws a lot of electricity, can slow down when there is no air discharge to transport. It would reduce electricity usage radically.
Digitalization and automation will also provide great opportunities for developing more sustainable mining. Already today, several of the processes in the Swedish mines are remotely controlled from control rooms below or above ground. In the near future, a first fully automated mine in Sweden can only be controlled from the control rooms above, and digitalization also reduces energy demand and results in more efficient transport work and optimized processes.
The Swedish mining industry has a major impact both in Sweden and abroad. Sweden has the largest mining industry in the EU, for example, Sweden accounts for more than 90 percent of iron ore production and 40 percent of zinc production.
But even new mining innovations developed in Sweden are important export products and can facilitate climate change in the rest of the world. And Sweden is not a small player in this context. Swedish machine suppliers supply about 60 percent of the world's underground equipment, including the Swedish mining cluster, well-known companies such as ABB, Sandvik, Atlas Copco and SSAB. This confirms and strengthens the picture that a small country like Sweden can have a major impact on the rest of the world by becoming the world's first fossil-free welfare country.
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