| Written by Jens Petter Haugen

LKBA ensure improved safety in hazardous underground mines by equipping their mines and labour with IDENTEC SOLUTION’S personnel safety system. LKBA implemented Crew Companion in their mines to ensure improved safety, real time visibility of personnel and headcount per mustering zone in Kiruna’s underground mining operations.

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LKAB is an international high-tech mining and minerals group that mines and upgrades iron ore in northern Sweden for the global steel market. Their mine in Kiruna, Sweden is the largest and most modern underground iron mine in Europe. Founded in 1890, the company has been state-owned since the 1950s.

With a vast orebody that is four kilometres long, 80 to 120 meters wide and at least 2,000 meters deep (as wide as a soccer field, but almost 33 times longer), the Kiruna mine is dependent on the territorial regulations, company rules and an elaborated emergency planning. By employing up to 500 mine workers, LKBA needs to consider all possible situations and a key factor is ensuring employees’ safety and highly efficient handling in case of an emergency. INDENTEC SOLUTIONS personnel tracking system Crew Companion delivers real-time visibility and location of personnel by equipping all labors with a transponder. These highly robust and reliable wireless tracking solution consists of providing hardware and software, which is facilitated throughout the isolated underground environments. Various areas are divided into monitored zones. The control centre constantly receives the location of each employee in the different zones.

MONETARY LOSS IS ALWAYS A HIGH PRICE TO PAY

In 2017, LKBA produced 27,2 MT of iron ore products and had sales of more than 23 billion SEK. Every day, iron ore equivalent to the steel used for around six Eiffel towers is mined. The amount of production annually increases by five per cent. Mining ore at great depths is a logistical and safety challenge that can only be overcome by a well-functioning infrastructure and a real-time, reliable personnel tracking system. The daily mining business starts with targeted detonation and drilling of mining zones around 1 a.m., creating cavities that then provide the miners with new mining areas. Ensuring an uninterrupted and efficient workflow, as well as avoiding downtime, LKBA requires instant access to information, automated alerts, and an accurate and reliable localization system of all employees, which ensures safety in a timely manner. Effective emergency planning is often reliant upon the transparency and localization of labour, ensuring employees are not located in hazardous and detonation mining areas. Interruptions can cause downtime, as well as monetary and production loss. 

TRACK, LOCATE AND OPTIMIZE MINING 

The personnel tracking system Crew Companion provides a wireless solution, guaranteeing visibility to ensure complete eviction of the detonation area by implementing automated headcount per mustering zone in every covering area. Moreover, the system provides accurate data and ‘man down’ alerts. This enables operators to instantly and automatically identify, locate and reach out to miners over the preferred communication system on the vast premise and ensures prompt initiation of search and rescue operations in emergency situations. Real-time monitoring of mining zones and labour can help operators avoid costly operational mishaps before they happen. IDENTEC SOLUTIONS reduces the risk of human error through a robust, reliable, and prove digitalized counting process, which can be remotely administered from the control rooms.

IDENTEC SOLUTIONS keeps improving methods and solutions for the Mining and Tunneling industry to ensure safe and reliable working conditions in hazardous environments.