LKAB is building a new plant for grinding bentonite at the harbour in Luleå. The first sod was turned on Monday by Municipal Commissioner Yvonne Stålnacke, Luleå, and LKAB's President and CEO Lars-Eric Aaro.
The investment amounts to 440 million kronor and the plant will be built on LKAB's land near the ore harbour at Sandskär, Luleå. The plant, which will be operational next year, will replace LKAB's existing bentonite facility at Svartön, which dates from 1967.
"The bentonite plant in Luleå will be decisive for LKAB's ability to manufacture the world's best iron ore pellets. The new plant is also an important component of LKAB's growth plan," said Lars-Eric Aaro, President and CEO.
Since the facility will be built at LKAB's existing ore harbour, all of LKAB's industrial operations in Luleå will be consolidated at Sandskär. The new bentonite plant will enable higher production and storage capacity, as well as capacity corresponding to increased pellet volumes when LKAB grows and opens new mines.
The new plant will feature a modern control and automations system, and will enable greater capacity and flexibility, as well as a world-class work environment.
Bentonite is a clay that is formed from volcanic ash. It can absorb up to eight times its dry weight in water. LKAB uses bentonite as a binder in the pellet feed which is subsequently rolled into so-called green balls prior to sintering in the pelletizing plants. Bentonite contributes to the quality of LKAB Green Pellets.
LKAB imports bentonite via the harbour in Luleå. The bentonite is milled and dried to a powder at the bentonite plant, and then hauled by rail to company's production facilities in Malmberget, Svappavaara and Kiruna.
Facts about bentonite:
Capacity: More than 200,000 tonnes per year
Raw material stockpile: 75,000 tonnes (+ 25,000 tonnes)
Grinding: 30 tonnes/hr (+6 tonnes/hr)
Grain size: 0.04 millimetres
Product stockpile: 2,400 tonnes (+1,500 tonnes)
Loading: 2 x235 cubic metres per hour
Investment cost: 440 million kronor
Mineral: Volcanic ash
Uses: additive in pellets, cat sand, foodstuffs, flocculating agents and more