Bombardier implements train control technology at Swedish iron-ore mine

Bombardier implements train control technology at Swedish iron-ore mine : Sweden-based international iron-ore mining, processing and trading group Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB) on Tuesday reported that it had inaugurated the deepest new production level, the seventh main level, at the world’s largest underground iron-ore mine, in northern Sweden.

The miner implemented Canadian rail technology company Bombardier Transportation’s Interflo 150 train control technology to enable operations 1 365 m below the surface at the Kiruna iron-ore mine.

Bombardier provided the system, which would secure and increase production for the next 15 to 20 years, as a subcontractor to Midroc Electro, which was delivering a fully automatic process control and train transportation system to LKAB for the new mining level.

Sweden’s Enterprise Minister Annie Lööf, LKAB CEO and president Lars-Eric Aaro and LKAB chairperson Marcus Wallenberg attended the launch of the system.

The Kiruna mine, which has been in operation for more than 100 years, has, to date, mined an estimated 950-million tonnes of iron-ore. In previous reports, the company stated that this was only one-third of the full resource.

In the first quarter of this year, the mine produced 6.1-million tonnes of ore, with production expected to increase further as a result of ongoing expansions.

Aaro stated in LKAB’s interim report for the first quarter that the iron-ore market was growing and that demand for direct reduction pellets for gas-based iron and steel production, in particular, was expected to grow in the next few years.

“The greatest growth is expected in Asia, with China as the principle economic locomotive. Over the past few years, major investments have also been made in the iron-ore industry, mainly in Australia and Brazil, which means the supply of iron-ore will increase between 2013 and 2015.”

“If it is to continue as a preferred supplier, LKAB must be able to grow with its customers. The strategy for the next few years includes a volume increase of just over 35% to reach a yearly capacity of 37-million tonnes of iron-ore products by 2015,” the report stated.

New Deepest Level
The company planned to roll-out the deep-level mining in five stages. The first phase of mining at the new level would consist of three groups of shafts, each comprising four ore passes, two train sets, a crusher and a skip hoist, as well as all media and automation needed to keep the level running.

“Essentially, the remaining four stages will involve the addition of more production areas; groups of shafts; rolling stock equipment including trains; crushers and skip hoists; and further signaling to be completed by 2017,” explained LKAB’s Hans Engberg.

Nearly 4.3-million cubic meters of rock – enough to fill seven Stockholm Globe Arenas – had been removed to make way for the new main level, which was expected to extend the working life of the mine by more than 20 years.

This represented the largest investment in the history of LKAB and would generate 35-million tonnes of crude ore a year.

Developed for industrial and underground mining railways, the Interflo 150 train control solution greatly enhances operations and capacity, while increasing safety. “This project highlights how Bombardier’s innovative technology increases productivity and contributes to the development of the region and one of Sweden’s key industries,” Bombardier said in a release.

The driverless Interflo 150 computer-based system could also be fully integrated with a mine’s loading and logistics systems and enabled automatic route setting and dispatching.

Its moving block technology allowed trains to operate safely with shorter headways and improved the use of track and rolling stock, as well as energy efficiency and production capacity. Interfaces to production administration and weighing equipment in the track provide statistical input.

The scope of delivery at Kiruna also included two Bombardier EBI Screen traffic control centre systems, wayside equipment controlling 57 EBI Switch point machines and 180 balises.

Bombardier also supplied EBI Cab automatic train protection and operation onboard equipment for nine production and four service locomotives.

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