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MATERIALS HANDLING


The conveyor system at the LKAB mine


DRIVING EFFICIENCIES A


Showcasing a project where a mine invested in smart drive technology to boost production deep down


s the LKAB Malmberget mine in Sweden reaches depths below 1,250m, it becomes increasingly important to maintain an effi cient


fl ow of ore and high availability. T ere is simply no room for breakdowns. “We know that we have to maintain


cost-eff ectiveness at depth. T is is something we are continually working to improve,” says maintenance engineer Pär Sundqvist. LKAB Malmberget is an impressive


iron ore mine in more ways than one. First, it is a high-tech facility that houses an entire underground community – including roads, mining operations, offi ces and canteens. And second, the mine has several ore bodies that are spread across the site. It is a full 8km from one end of


the mine to the other, which naturally places big demands on logistics and cost- eff ectiveness. T e fact that the mine is doing well, despite tough competition from open-cast mines around the world, is attributed to the high level of effi ciency together with a high-quality product, good environmental awareness and highly skilled personnel. One essential improvement in


availability involved a 338m-long conveyor belt. T is was not living up to its task as the “main line” for carrying 80% of all the ore from the mine. A new drive was installed during a scheduled shutdown in May 2016, with Sundqvist as project manager. By that time LKAB Malmberget had been looking at alternatives for a couple of years.


PLENTY OF CHALLENGES Sundqvist and his colleagues looked at everything from the latest electric drives without gearboxes to hydraulic drives, at other plants where these were in use. T e only thing they knew for sure was that they did not want any gearboxes. T is was partly for reasons of space, and partly to reduce the risk of breakdown. “We already had some dual gearboxes and it was diffi cult to fi nd spares for them. T e old conveyor belt was like a patchwork quilt after all the hard starts and stops, and after a small fi re. On average we had one breakdown each year that led to an unscheduled shutdown of three to fi ve days. T is usually happened in the week after New Year, when it is coldest of all,” says Håkan Hansson, who is a fi eld mechanic.


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