Sublevel Caving at LKAB's Kiirunavaara Mine

Heden, H. ; Lidin, Kjell ; Malmström, Roger
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 17
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION LKAB was formed at the turn of the century when the railways between the ore fields and harbors were built. The mines are situated north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden. Kiirunavaara is the largest mine, with a pro¬duction capacity of approximately 30 Mt/a. Malm¬berget has a capacity of about 12 Mt/ a. Both are under¬ground mines. Svappavaara, the only opencast mine currently in operation, has a capacity of about 4.5 Mt/a. The ore harbors are at Narvik for the Kiruna and Svappavaara mines and at Lulea for the Malmberget mine (see Fig. 1). Production in the form of finished products is shown in Fig. 2a, b, c, and d. Due to poor ore markets in re¬cent years, production and shipments have been cut back, but there was a positive swing in 1978. LKAB has been 96% state-owned since 1957. In addition to the iron mines in northern Sweden, LKAB has subsidiaries in central Sweden which produce sulfide ores, quartz sand, and uranium (Fig. 3). The mining methods employed are opencast bench stoping at Svappavaara and sublevel caving at Kiirunavaara and Malmberget. GEOLOGY The Kiirunavaara ore body is 4000 m long and av¬erages about 90 m wide, with variations in width from a few meters to around 150 m. The ore has been ex¬plored by deep drilling down to about 1000 m, but mag¬netic measurements indicate a depth of at least 1500 m. The Kiirunavaara ore is oriented in a north-northeasterly direction with a number of ores in the boundaries be¬tween the wall rock types. The ore in Kiirunavaara is mainly a fine-grained magnetite with a varying content of fine-grained apatite. The apatite content of the ore decreases with increasing depth. The other ores are all apatite-bearing and a couple are hematite ores (Fig. 4a, b). The ores are sedimentary, tilted, and tectonically de¬formed. They have a lateral dip of 0.87 to 1.2 rad (50 to 70°). The contacts between ore and wall rock are distinct and sharp, but both the hanging wall and the footwall are brecciated and impregnated with magnetite. The footwall of the Kiirunavaara ore consists of syenite porphyry with a low quartz content and rela¬tively good strength; the hanging wall consists of quartz porphyry. Both types are known as Kiruna porphyries. The ore at the boundary with the hanging wall is often rich in kaolin. There are a few veins of syenite porphyry running through the ore, which has a few major faults (Fig. 4c, d). There are two sharply delineated ore grades in Kiirunavaara: low phosphorus ore with less than 0.1 % phosphorus (about one-third of the ore) and high phos¬phorus ore with greater than 0.5% phosphorus. The iron content is 67% in the low phosphorus ore and 60% in the high phosphorus ore. These ore types are sold as different grades and so are kept separate during mining. MINING AT KIIRUNAVAARA The Kiirunavaara and Luossavaara ores were first mined using opencast bench stoping in 1902. When mining costs rose owing to higher waste removal, under¬ground methods were adopted. In the mid-1950s, the ores were still being mined on the surface at the same
Full Article Download:
(1003 kb)