LKAB handles large quantities of mining waste and other types of landfill waste. This involves a huge responsibility – and an obligation – to handle such materials in as sustainable a way as possible.
Mining inevitably leads to changes in the surrounding landscape. In order to minimise the impact and manage changes, LKAB carries out precise impact analyses, monitors processes and views remediation work as an important part of our corporate responsibilities.
The majority of our operational waste consists of rock types that are not ore, known as waste rock, which is separated from the iron ore and dumped in landfill. Waste rock is also used for construction purposes and to fill in mined ore bodies.
Operational waste also consists of wet waste or tailings that is deposited in a tailings dam. LKAB also handles smaller volumes of waste lime, hazardous waste, and scrap iron and metal.
Mining generates huge quantities of waste rock that has to be broken down and disposed of in order to get to the iron ore. Some of the waste rock is used to fill in cavities that are created when the ore is mined, but a significant proportion of the waste rock must be transported over ground and disposed of in special landfills. This affects the image of the landscape and can also have an environmental impact in the form of leaching and dust. LKAB sends several million tonnes of waste rock to landfill every year. In addition, a small amount of waste from cleaning processes is disposed of at special landfill sites that are monitored and controlled in order to counteract the risk of collapse, dust and leaching. Hazardous waste and scrap metal and iron are sorted and processed at special environmental stores in our operating locations.
All mining and processing generates waste products in the form of waste rock and tailings that have to be sent to landfill and stored in as sustainable a way as possible – in accordance with the laws and guidelines contained in the Swedish Environmental Code.
Tailings from LKAB's activities are disposed of, together with water, in what are known as tailings dams. These contain large quantities of water and tailings that have to be stored over a prolonged period and so dam safety is a priority issue in terms of sustainability.
Safe dams are a requirement for mining and so we continuously, proactively and systematically carry out dam safety work, involving self-monitoring in accordance with the Swedish Dam Safety Ordinance. LKAB also complies with the laws and guidelines contained in the Swedish Environmental Code and the mining industry's safety directive, GruvRIDAS.
LKAB has 14 tailings dams, divided between three deposit systems, most of which are classified in the second highest impact class, i.e. 1B. This means that a dam breach is judged to have significant financial and societal and environmental consequences. That makes tailings dam safety one of our most important priority issues.