LKAB's activities involve a significant environmental impact on the surrounding landscape and community. They involve emissions into air and discharges into water, noise, vibrations and land impact from industrial and ore processing activities.
Mining activities generate, among other things, vibrations, noise, land deformities and rock mass movements that can be detected in the surrounding communities. In order to control this impact, but also to prevent future impact, LKAB carries out continuous measurements of factors that can affect the surroundings.
LKAB also controls emissions into air and discharges into water, and works actively to reduce impact through ambitious energy and climate goals, such as working towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent per tonne of finished product by 2020.
LKAB's activities are regulated by the applicable legislation and environmental permits. The supervisory authority for LKAB is the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten County, and in some cases the municipalities for the relevant site.
Vibrations and land impact
Land impact is monitored predominantly through GPS measurements using measuring stations. These are distributed throughout the local communities and deformation limits are checked by comparing the distance between adjacent GPS measuring stations. The strain that arises between stations is then compared with the terms for ground deformations.
Vibrations are measured around the activities in Kiruna, Malmberget, Svappavaara, Masugnsbyn and Narvik. Air shock waves are continuously measured using an online gauge in Svappavaara and Masugnsbyn. Noise is measured at a number of sites at all operating areas in accordance with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's guidelines for noise nuisance measurement of external industrial noise. These measurements are taken as a rule each year and at night, when noisy activities must be kept to a minimum.
LKAB's activities, such as landfill stores and transport, generate dust. In some circumstances, such as a dry climate or strong wind, this dust needs to be combated in order to minimise its impact on the surroundings communities.
Examples of ongoing dust control work during the snowless season are watering, sweeping and salting roads. Examples of more long-term measures include moving dust-generating equipment, such as crushers, planting trees, installation of dust extraction systems, and placing dust-generating equipment indoors. Good planning in terms of the design of the industrial area is important to minimise the impact on the surroundings.
As part of the follow-up work, regular measurements of dust fall are taken at our sites. Measurements are taken in accordance with the NILU method (the Norwegian Institute for Air Research) in a number of places around the communities, using special containers which are collected every month. LKAB reports the results in environmental reports and in separate reports for the supervisory authority. In some cases, LKAB also measures PM10, i.e. smaller airborne particulate matter, in our surrounding communities.
Emissions to air and discharges to water
LKAB's atmospheric emissions come mainly from the ore processing plants and consist primarily of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, dust and acid gases, such as sulphur oxide, hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen chloride.
Discharges to water are largely down to the fact that ore processing requires large quantities of water. However, a large amount of this water is reused in the process, thanks to recirculation. The surplus water is discharged to our recipients.
Biological and hydrochemical surveys of process and recipient water are carried out as part of the self-monitoring and development work. Other water from production is fed into the municipal sewerage network for treatment.