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LKAB Kiruna grows automated Sandvik electric loader fleet to 20

LKAB, operator of the world’s largest underground iron ore mine, has ordered 12 Toro™ LH625iE cable-electric loaders and five Toro™ LH621i loaders, all equipped with Sandvik’s AutoMine® solution, for its famed Kiruna mine in northern Sweden. The order will more than double Kiruna’s electric Toro™ LH625iE fleet to 20, all of which will now be automated, and its total Sandvik loader fleet to 28 by the end of 2025.

The orders were booked in Q2 and Q4 2023, with deliveries scheduled from January 2024 through the end of 2025. The investment follows a study by Sandvik’s Trans4Mine team and calculations by Polymathian that identified opportunities for Kiruna to increase production by as much as 15 percent through automation of its large electric loader fleet.

“Sandvik and LKAB have a shared goal to boost production at the Kiruna mine,” said Magnus Backe, General Manager LKAB Kiruna. “This is a true partnership to increase tonnage and improve safety through automation.”

Developed in 2020 as a collaboration between LKAB and Sandvik to replace Kiruna’s aging fleet of 17 Sandvik LH625E loaders, the 25-metric-ton-payload Toro™ LH625iE is a revamped version of the industry’s largest-capacity underground loader.

“This investment supports our strategy towards a more electrified, autonomous and safer mine,” said Joel Kangas, Mine Manager at LKAB. “We need to excavate an enormous volume of rock from depths of up to 1,300 meters, and we will mine even deeper in the future. These depths present a prohibitive ventilation challenge for conventional equipment of the size we need to meet production demands. We worked closely on a daily basis with the Sandvik experts on site to ensure a seamless implementation. Ever since we put the first Toro™ LH625iE straight into a production environment more than three years ago, these loaders have been the backbone in our production system, exceeding our expectations, and we look forward to incorporating these new automated units into our operation.”

Kiruna was among the industry’s earliest adopters of cable-electric loading, trialing its first Sandvik unit in 1985. The oldest of Kiruna’s well-proven Sandvik LH625E loaders was 13 years old and had more than 40,000 production hours when what began as a project to modernize the loader and a side project to enhance its cable reeling system ultimately evolved into a completely upgraded loader model with the latest technology and new components.

Sandvik collaborated closely with LKAB to customize the design of Toro™ LH625iE to meet Kiruna’s needs. These included better energy efficiency than the original model with the same industry-largest payload capacity and a larger, more ergonomic operator’s cabin with a turning seat that swivels 180 degrees.

“Toro™ LH625iE has proven itself at the Kiruna mine, delivering an unrivaled production capacity of up to 500 metric tons per hour,” said Mats Eriksson, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions. “Not only are these automated loaders extremely productive, they improve underground conditions and operator comfort with less heat, fewer vibrations and lower noise levels. Our partnership will create value for LKAB for years to come, and we look forward to continuing to support LKAB’s goals to mine more sustainably and productively.”

Toro™ LH625iE is 14 meters long and features a four-meter-wide, nine-cubic-meter bucket and an energy-efficient, IE4 classified electric motor to deliver a low cost per ton. It connects to Kiruna’s mine network via a 350-meter trailing cable that enables an operating range of up to 700 meters.

For further information, please contact:
Andreas Östdahl
Key Account Manager
Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions
Email: andreas.ostdahl@sandvik.com

Sandvik Group
Sandvik is a global, high-tech engineering group providing solutions that enhance productivity, profitability and sustainability for the manufacturing, mining and infrastructure industries. We are at the forefront of digitalization and focus on optimizing our customers’ processes. Our world-leading offering includes equipment, tools, services and digital solutions for machining, mining, rock excavation and rock processing. In 2022 the Group had approximately 40,000 employees and revenues of about 112 billion SEK in about 150 countries within continuing operations.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions
Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is a business area within the Sandvik Group and a global leading supplier of equipment and tools, parts, service, digital solutions and sustainability-driving technologies for the mining and construction industries. Application areas include rock drilling, rock cutting, loading and hauling, tunneling and quarrying. In 2022, sales were approximately 57 billion SEK with about 16,200 employees.

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