Sweden considers remote controlled mines

Kiruna mine. Photo: Bertil Ericson/Scanpix.The Swedish government plans to invest SEK100 million in research to make the mining, mineral and steel industry more effective.

And one innovation aims to steer more mining work offsite via remote control. Some researchers and mining companies say many Swedish mines could be completely robotic within 20 years.

“We will always have to check on things of course, but I definitely think that remote control is the future,” says Gustaf Blomberg, who works as a loader almost 800 meters underground in Kiruna mine, in Sweden’s Far North.

Much of the loading in the LKAB-owned Kiruna mine is already controlled by computers, joysticks and TV-screens.

Jan Johansson, a scientist based in the northern city of Luleå, sees big possibilities for a mining company that can decrease the number of employees working underground, both for environmental and work safety reasons.

“You could have a global shift. First you work in Kiruna, then you are sent over to Shanghai, and then to Lima or something like that,” he told Swedish Radio.

“But I think it is more likely that you will have a control center in Kiruna, that controls [nearby] Svappavaara and a few other smaller mines.”

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