LKAB's strategy is to grow with its customers and to boost production from a current 27 Mt of iron ore products per year to 35-40 million tonnes by 2015.
To meet this target, the company must have access to more crude ore i.e., the raw material that is upgraded to iron ore products in the form of pellets and fines. Together with the new main levels now being built in the underground mines in Kiruna and Malmberget, the three new iron ore mines in Svappavaara will be an important step towards that goal.
Ore from the three mines will enable LKAB to boost annual production of finished products to 37 million tonnes. This will allow LKAB to keep pace with the growth of its customers.
LKAB is investing about SEK 240 million in the project. Europe's biggest iron ore project, Gruvberget in Svappavaara, was inaugurated at the end of May this year. The Gruvberget deposit holds an estimated 25 million tonnes of magnetite, which will now be mined in an open pit. A maximum of two million tonnes of iron ore per year will be mined. Gruvberget also holds about 50 million tonnes of hematite ore, but this will not be mined for the time being.
The open pit at Mertainen will be the second of three iron ore mines to be opened by LKAB in the Svappavaara field. LKAB is now applying for a permit from the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten to test-mine 300,000 tonnes of iron ore in Mertainen, near Svappavaara. Test drilling is under way to learn more about the orebody.