PROMETIA Tech Tour participants visit mineral processing and metallurgical testing facilities in sweden

PROMETIA Tech Tour participants visit mineral processing and metallurgical testing facilities in sweden

In this year 2022 edition of the PROMETIA Tech Tour, 18 young researchers and students coming from more than 10 different countries, visited several facilities in the field of mineral processing and extractive metallurgy in the North of Sweden from 12 to 17 June. Stéphane Bourg from CEA, Chairman of PROMETIA, Yongxiang Yang, from TU Delft in charge of PROMETIA Education and Training activities, and Bastien Duplantier and Fanny David from the PROMETIA Secretariat, accompanied the group during the tour.

The group met in Kiruna on Sunday. The evening was the opportunity for the attendees to meet and know each other. After a short night mainly due to an amazing midnight sun, the tour kicked off with a visit to the Malmberget Iron Ore Mine. Located next to Gällivare, in the Norrbotten County, the Malmberget Iron Ore Mine is one of the largest underground iron ore mines not only in Sweden but also in the world, with a yearly production capacity of over five million tonnes of iron ore. Owned by LKAB, it contains 20 orebodies spread over an underground area of about 12 km², of which 10 orebodies are currently being mined. Tech Tour attendees drove down to -1250m by bus to learn more about the organisation an underground mine. One can find one restaurant, analytical abs, maintenance workshops and of course, crushers and carrier belt for the ore… LKAB’s core business focuses on highly processed iron ore and mineral products such as pellets and fines and is oriented to the production of a fossil free iron.

Group picture inside Malmberget mine

The next visit was to the Boliden open pit copper mine in Aitik, situated next to Gällivare. This mine is one of Europe’s largest open pit copper mines and it uses some of the biggest machines in the world, such as rock dumpers and excavators whose buckets can hold 45 cubic metres of rock. Participants were able to get a glimpse of the mine from above and had the opportunity to get a close-up look at some of the machines used there.

Group picture inside one of the machines used at the Boliden open pit copper mine
Group picture at the Boliden open pit copper mine
Boliden open pit copper mine in Aitik

To learn more about the mine, check the video below.

On Wednesday 15 June 2022, the group visited SWERIM, a PROMETIA member organisation located in Luleå. SWERIM is a Swedish research group specialised in applied scientific research in materials development, production and product development. It operates throughout the value chain: from raw material to finished products, including recycling. The group had a guided visit of SWERIM premises during which staff representatives presented different pyrometallurgical process for metal production, hydrogen production, and off-gas management. It was also the opportunity to visit TALGA premises, a start-up involved in battery grade graphite production from the exclusive and high-quality graphite deposit in Vittangi, Sweden.

In the afternoon, the group visited the Luleå University of Technology specialised in the following research profiles:

  • Mining engineering & metallurgy
  • Sustainable use of resources
  • Customer-oriented construction engineering
  • Product development

After an introductory lecture, Tech Tour attendees visited the university labs and learn about the different research themes available.

On Thursday 16 June, Tech Tour participants went to Skellefteå to visit the Northvolt Ett battery gigafactory and the Boliden Rönnskär copper smelter

The gigafactory is the Northvolt primary site for active material synthesis, anode and cathode manufacturing, cell assembly and recycling. It should reach an annual production of 60GWh by 2030. During the visit, our group learnt more about the entire batteries fabrication process and on the Revolt project for battery recycling.

Group picture at the Northvolt Ett battery gigafactory

The visit of the smelter was the last visit of the tour. After a presentation of the company and of the different process steps involved in copper refining, the group visited the plant. The tour ended with a group game in which attendees had to place jars containing materials of different textures and compositions at the correct stage of the production scheme on a map of the plant.

Group game at Boliden Rönnskär

PROMETIA Tech Tour taking place every year is an opportunity to students and young researchers from Europe to meet and share experiences in fields such as raw materials, mining, recycling and metallurgy. See below what our participants had to say about the tour.

Short impressions of our participants

It was a great opportunity to meet professionals and companies working in the field of mining and material processing with a group of nice people who are active in the same area. This Tech Tour provided an insight into the real industry with academic background, which was very interesting for all attendees due to the good organisation. To me it was an unforgettable week of learning, visiting, and making connections in a friendly environment.
Sadegh Yeganeh, POLITO

The Tech Tour was a great opportunity to learn about and, most importantly, see the value chain process from mine to product. Especially, the scale of each step lead to several WOW effects.
Nils Zachmann, Chalmers

As a young researcher in mining engineering at Politecnico di Torino, Prometia Tech Tour was  a fascinating experience, which allowed me to further understand the need for a sufficient sustainable mining industry in Europe for our technology, and for a more realistic research approach towards critical minerals, along with a strong recycling industry to reduce dependency on mining. All this to build up a more robust EU circular economy to sustain raw materials demand and production, and economy growth in an efficient and eco-friendly manner.
Gyslain Ngadi Sakatadi, POLITO

PROMETIA Tech tour is a great opportunity for young researchers to explore the world of industry and the cutting edge technologies in different fields. It also helps us get an overall picture and develop networking connections with different scholars. Thank you PROMETIA!
Mohammed Hassan, TU Delft

I am very happy that I was able to participate in the Prometia Tech Tour, which took place in northern Sweden. It has been an educational trip for me that has allowed me to develop my knowledge and skills and during which I was able to visit many interesting places, such as the Boliden open pit copper mine or the Boliden Rönnskär copper smelter, meet interesting people, and enjoy nature and landscapes in northern Sweden.
Justyna Kostrzewa, IMN

Too often we hear that the solution to the multiple challenges we face in the raw materials industry requires collaboration between different disciplines. Yet, young professionals and young researchers seldom have the opportunity to participate in such discussions. PROMETIA Tech Tour was a big opportunity, in my opinion for three important things:
– Sharing our research outputs into this new (intended to be) circular economy
– Learning more about the industrial feasibility and ecosystem that is needed to turn these ideas into real large scale implemented solutions,

– Getting to know our future potential partners in tackling these challenges
A big thank you to all the organisers (PROMETIA, Clara, Fanny, Stéphane, Bastien, Yongxiang), the companies and research institutions (LKAB, Boliden, Northvolt, Swerim and LTU) and an encouraging message to future participants: don’t hesitate!
Carlos Arias Quintero, KU Leuven

The Tech tour was a great experience that allowed us to visit impressive mines, industries and institutes and that in a very good atmosphere.

The Tech Tour gave us the opportunity to visit production sites and laboratories involved in all stages of raw material production: mining, mineral processing, pyro/hydrometallurgy and recycling. It was also a great way to meet people working in the mining/metallurgy field, both in the academic sector and in industry.
Maud HERBELIN, Eramet

For additional photos, check the gallery below containing Łukasz Myćka pictures.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with all of PROMETIA’s activities and latest news!