Mining for raw materials is critical to modern life and is an important sector for IoT growth. As the beginning of the global supply chain and the source of every product in Consumer and Industrial IoT, Smart Mining operations are a critical infrastructure.
Smart mining is any type of mining that leverages IoT to automate, power, and connect operations to enhance safety, reduce operational costs, improve productivity, and increase sustainability. And it’s no small market, either. According to a recent market report by The Insight Partners, the smart mining industry is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 13.3 percent from 2021 to 2028, more than doubling in size from $9.6 billion to $23 billion over that time.
Of course, with all this growth will come new technology. In 2019, ABB launched a digital application for real-time integration in mines designed to connect mine operators, workers, equipment, and mining activities. Now, Nordic Iron Ore in Norway has chosen ABB to supply process control and management systems that will help the mining company future-proof and digitize its smart mining operation at the Blötberget iron ore mine.
ABB has been involved in powering and connecting mining operations for years and has recently focused on sustainability in mining, a key initiative and driver of smart mining solutions. ABB joined the Sustainable Underground Mining (SUM) project in 2020, which has stated ambitions for zero carbon dioxide emissions, completely safe mines for humans, productivity increases of 50 percent, and deeper mining.
“Mining and the support industries are a significant part of the Swedish economy, with some of the most advanced and efficient mining operations anywhere in the world,” said Lennart Eliasson, Managing Director, Nordic Iron Ore. “There are many challenges when opening a new mine. We want to draw on the strong technical knowledge in Sweden to open a mine with low environmental impact and footprint, which is also competitive and safe. The early involvement from ABB, which has a track record of working with innovative mines in Sweden, ensures that the construction design and planning for the development of the mine can take a significant step forward.”
In Sweden, ABB provided mine design consultancy and recommended scope of supply for the opening of the former Blötberget mine, which has been closed for more than 40 years and is being redeveloped by mining company Nordic Iron Ore. Now, ABB has made recommendations that will reopen this mine as a fully operational smart mine, with automation, digitalization, and electrification for long-term, safe, sustainable and efficient mining operations at the site, according to the announcement.
“ABB can provide assistance at an early stage in mine development for electrification and automation and routinely collaborates with mining companies from initial feasibility studies through to full deployment,” said Björn Jonsson, Hub Manager, Process Industries, ABB. “Swedish mines are already benefiting from ABB solutions, using ABB Ability System 800xA distributed control system and the integrated ABB Ability Ventilation Optimizer.”
The Blötberget iron ore mine is expected to be operational in 2024. Nordic Iron Ore and ABB said they will continue developing the project and have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for further collaboration at Blötberget.
As long as there is technology and industry, we will need mining to pull the raw materials from the ground that supply both energy and elements for the global supply chain. Smart mining is going to be the solution to continuing mining operations efficiently and sustainably.