Thematic areas

Swedish mining companies, technology providers, universities and research institutes have jointly developed a common strategic research and innovation agenda that is revised every third year.

The purpose of this national research and innovation agenda, which is the third consecutive agenda of its kind, is to bring research and innovation needs of the Swedish mineral and mining industry, the metal extraction industry and equipment suppliers to the fore.

Sweden is one of the world’s leading nations in mining innovation. The mining companies are world leading in terms of productivity, both underground and at the surface, thanks in large to strong providers of  technology and systems. There is a longstanding tradition of collaboration between mining companies, technology and systems providers, research institutes and academia. This collaboration has laid the foundations for strong innovation and successful, internationally competitive companies.

The aim of this national research and innovation agenda is to jointly define the challenges, objectives and activities that are relevant and describe how research and innovation will strengthen the competitiveness of a sustainable and responsible mineral and metal-producing industry in Sweden.

2019

The third version of the agenda describes situation now, challenges and visions beyond 2030.

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2019

In the english version of the new agenda there is an in-depth study and a more detailed description of the nine thematic areas.

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2016

The first update of the agenda was released 2016, and covers the period 2017–2020 and includes visions beyond 2024.

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2013

The first STRIM agenda covered the time period 2013–2016 and constituted a base for the current agenda.

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Thematic areas

In the strategic innovation and research roadmap nine thematic areas are defined as especially important.

Exploration

Europe is heavily dependent on the import of a variety of minerals and metals. Despite the fact that we use more than 20 per cent of the global production of metals and minerals, we produce only 3 per cent.

The bedrock in Europe has good potential for new mineral finds, but large areas are under-explored and competition for land is a major concern for the extractive industry

Deeper and better in three dimensions

Future exploration will focus on finding mineralisations deeper in the Earth’s crust where there is not as much information available.

Exploration at depth requires improved methods for drilling and geophysical methods that can penetrate deeper. With knowledge about the three-dimensional structure of the bedrock and with improved ore geology models, exploration targets will be easier to locate.

Objective

The aim of the thematic area is to provide Sweden with the technology and knowledge needed to find deeply located mineralisations. This should lead to a higher degree of self-sufficiency of metals and minerals, and at the same time reduce conflicts on land use.

Resource characterisation

A sound knowledge of a mineral resource serves as a basis for effective extraction and utilisation of the ore body. In addition to knowing the geometry of the ore body and the commodity grade, information is also necessary on how the rock unit behaves during mining and mineral processing.

Aggregated information

In general, four types of data on an ore body are collected: geological, geophysical, rock mechanical and geometallurgical. In all these areas, novel analysis techniques are already available.

However, development of the techniques is necessary to make them widely used in the extraction of ores. There is also a potential for improvement of identifying and extracting critical metals as by-products.

Objective

By improving the tools for data collection about mineralisations, both in the mine and in drill holes, a larger part of the natural resource can be extracted. This has both economic and environmental benefits.

Mining

Mining, both underground and open pit, are complex systems where many interacting processes, such as drilling, blasting, fragmentation, loading, hauling, hoisting, ground control, ventilation and logistics, need to be coordinated.

Each of these operations needs to be improved and optimised to produce an efficient process, both from an environmental and an economic perspective.

Security first and foremost

Extending mining to deeper levels in the ground poses new challenges. Stability becomes an issue, and increased planning is required for efficient logistics. Automation contributes to increased employee safety since they no longer need to be present at the production face in the mine.

Objective

A fully automated mine without human presence in production areas is the goal. This will contribute to a better working situation for employees. In addition, environmental gains are obtained since a larger proportion of the ore can be extracted with less energy consumption.

Mineral processing

In order to extract metals from the mined ore, the rock must first be crushed. This is today the most energy-consuming part of the process, but also crucial for which proportion of the available metal that can be extracted.

More metals

Another challenge is to extract a larger number of metals from complex ores in order to use the natural resource better. If more metals can be extracted, the volume of waste will also decrease.

Objective

Intelligent production systems, where you at an early stage separate waste rock from ore and where comminution of the rock is energy efficient and optimised for the following concentration process, will contribute to a decreased energy consumption and a better use of the natural resources.

Recycling and metallurgy

Sweden has a very efficient system for collecting and recycling certain metals, e.g. iron and copper, while there is a complete lack of recycling of some critical metals which are found in for instance electronic waste.

Some of the scrap metal is utilised in the processes used to extract metal from ore, and waste from one process may be used in another process to extract metals from the waste.

More metals from ore and scrap

A challenge for the future is to increase the yield of the metals which are already recovered. Another challenge is to recover additional elements contained in the material streams that are not extracted today but instead lost in by-products or waste streams.

There are also large, known mineral deposits which cannot be turned into ores because there are no good mineral processing methods to extract the metals present.

Objective

Improved processes aimed at extracting more metals from complex ores, reclaimed material and waste will contribute to improved resource efficiency and decrease the current import dependence of some metals.

Reclamation and environmental performance

Even though the environmental footprint of mining has decreased significantly during the last decades, mining operations may still affect the environment, and conflicts on land use are relatively common. The mining industry is a large energy consumer, often in the form of fossil fuels, and emissions of nitrogen from undetonated explosives is not uncommon.

To minimise the environmental impact, one challenge is to prevent the formation of acid rock drainage water from tailings containing sulphides, and to prevent such water from reaching the ground water or surface water.

Waste or resource?

New and improved methods for covering the waste from mining can be developed. The possibility of utilising mine tailings, traditionally considered as waste, as a resource and developing processes that can convert them into products must also be explored.

Objective

The environmental impact of mining should be sustainable and accepted by society. There are no harmful emissions and a large part of the residues from mining can be used as a resource. Reclaimed abandoned mine sites may contribute to an increase in biodiversity and space for recreation.

Attractive workplaces

Swedish mines are characterised by a strong safety culture which has resulted in a low number of accidents and injuries. The environmental consciousness is also high. However, accidents still happen, especially among contractors.

Increased automation within mining can help to further reduce the number of accidents, and to improve working conditions. But attractive workplaces are more than environment and safety.

There is also a need to improve the social environment and to ensure that the work tasks are stimulating. Opportunities for development are also important.

To keep good employees

A key issue for industry is to recruit and retain qualified employees. There is a need to identify what kind of knowledge may be needed in the future and to influence the training available so that people with the right knowledge can be recruited.

Objective

A well-planned mine helps to reduce the risk for employees. The work is largely automated and remotely controlled, making the profession attractive for both women and men.

Gender and diversity

Although the Swedish industry is generally very good in terms of gender equality and diversity, much can still be done to improve the situation.

The mining industry has traditionally been a strongly male dominated industry, but global competition, new technology and the demands for efficient and safe production demand that the mining industry needs to attract new groups of people.

Attractive mining communities

Gender and diversity issues are also important for the communities where the mines are located to avoid a divided labour market with low-paid women in the service sector and high-paid men working in the mine. The migration of women from these communities today is high, which makes the communities vulnerable.

One challenge is to attract a varied group of young people to begin studies that can lead to jobs in industry.

Objective

The Swedish mining industry is world-class when it comes to breaking both ore and sex patterns. The workplaces are attractive to both women and men, and this helps to create prosperous mining communities where people thrive and remain.

Social license to operate

The global mining and metal producing industry has undergone major changes in recent decades in terms of companies’ impact on the environment and the local community. It is impossible today to take no account of the environmental impact.

Today, there is also a greater awareness among consumers about how goods are produced and what social culture companies have. This places higher demands on the companies.

Conflicts relating to land use are becoming more common and there is a need for clearer guidelines for evaluating different stakeholders’ claims.

Objective

The economic, social and environmental impact of the mining and metal producing industry is regarded as acceptable and legitimate by both stakeholders and the public.

Sustainability and digitisation

Sustainability and digitisation are themes that recur within all thematic areas of SIP STRIM. The environmental sustainability is an integral part of the industry, but economic and social sustainability are equally important for achieving competitiveness and acceptance. Digitisation is part of nearly every financed project, and is also a prerequisite for resource-efficient future production.

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