A mining company carries out exploration work to ensure the availability of raw materials. Constantly increasing mineral resources and mineral reserves, lays the foundations for continued operations. For LKAB, exploration work is currently in an intensive phase in Kiruna, Malmberget and in Svappavaara.
"A company that does not do the exploration work , prepares for closure. It can be seen as clear cut as that. Therefore, it is gratifying that LKAB is preparing the future by increasing exploration efforts and the various initiatives that are currently underway in the form of, for example, Sustainable Underground Mining and HYBRIT", says Monika Sammelin, acting head of the Exploration at LKAB.
Simply put, exploration is about using different methods to gather as much information about the mineralisation in the bedrock as possible. One way is to perform exploratory drilling, when long drill cores are taken from the bedrock. The drill cores are mapped, analysed, data is interpreted and then used as the basis for geological models. LKAB performs exploratory drilling both above ground and underground. Soil measurements are also taken in different ways, both from the air and from the ground surface, in order to understand the geology of an area better.
"Exploration takes time, is expensive and needs to be done systematically. It is about giving LKAB foresight, therefore we have to think 20, 30, yes, up to 50 years ahead", says Monika Sammelin.
LKAB performs exploratory drilling from the investigation site at a level of 1375 metres in the Kiruna mine, in order to find out more about the geometry of the mineralisation at depth and to the north. At the beginning of November, LKAB Berg & Betong AB started the work to extend the investigation site at a level of 1375 metres and during the month the site was extended by just over 95 metres. The investigation site is always operated in close cooperation with the exploration department.
To supplement the information, drilling is also planned from the ground surface. At the moment, drilling programs are being developed, stating how close, where and in which direction the drill holes are to be positioned and how deep they should go.
To further increase the knowledge of the mineralisation in the Kiruna area, during the autumn LKAB took electromagnetic flight measurements of the Per Geijer ores and Luossavaara.
There are about twenty ore bodies in Malmberget of varying sizes and the exploration work is taking place mainly in the larger ore bodies, Printzsköld, Alliansen and Fabian. Construction of an investigation site for the Fabian ore body was started during the year. Road construction is also planned downwards from the current main level to investigate what it looks like below a level of 1250 metres.
"It still too early for us to say what things look like at deeper levels, but that we must secure future volumes in our major ore bodies in Malmberget" says Monika Sammelin.
In Leveäniemi, drilling is being carried out to seal drill holes and to verify older data, in order to build on the knowledge base. At present, no exploration is taking place in Mertainen. In the case of Gruvberget, LKAB will start a major drilling program during 2019, lasting for approximately 3 years. Here we want to confirm what the mineralisation looks like, mainly at depth but also to the sides.
"Ore is not just something you stumble across; finding it is hard work and it must be financially viable to extract the mineralisation we find, before we can begin to call it ore," says Monika Sammelin.