Further improving the mining industry through NEXGEN SIMS

Solutions for battery-powered mining machines, virtual training environments, 5G communication and drone technology are among the latest breakthroughs in the development of the mining industry. This success is sprung from the recently concluded innovation project SIMS (Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems). LTU Business now wants to continue the efforts together with industry and academia in a new project: NEXGEN SIMS.

Batteridriven gruvmaskin

A new generation of battery-powered underground mining machines was tested in Agenico Eagle´s Kittilä mine in Finland in the autumn of 2019. The tests showed great production results and positive health effects for the operators, with an almost silent and vibration-free operation, and improved air quality. Photo: Niclas Dahlström

The completed SIMS project has since its start in 2017 shown that the mining industry can become more sustainable, and that the mine can be made an even more attractive workplace – with the help of autonomous drones, underground 5G technology and battery-powered vehicles.

– Lots is happening in the mining industry in terms of safety, sustainability and efficiency. Modern battery technology replaces diesel, and a higher degree of automation leads to improved safety. Luleå University of Technology conducts research in several areas that are useful for these efforts, says Jenny Greberg, associate professor of mining and quarrying technology at the university, and participant in SIMS.

– Digitizing the mines with smart systems that can communicate with each other will streamline production and create a more sustainable mining industry. We will see more precise mining, less energy consumption, waste and water use, says Jan Gustafsson, senior project manager at the industrial group Epiroc and project coordinator for SIMS.

The SIMS project has received lots of attention both within and outside of Europe. LTU Business and Niclas Dahlström have played a large part in this. – Jenny Greberg, Luleå University of technology 

Niclas Dahlström

Niclas Dahlström, senior project manager at LTU Business. Photo: Viveka Österman

LTU Business’ senior project manager Niclas Dahlström led the work of communicating SIMS and the project’s results with the world – partly through immersive virtual reality experiences. Now the project owners are hoping for a part two: NEXGEN SIMS, which means a bigger role for LTU Business also including business development of innovations sprung from the project.

– The SIMS project has received lots of attention both within and outside of Europe. LTU Business and Niclas Dahlström have played a large part in this. The work of disseminating the results via digital channels, video and VR environments has been very effective and we look forward to a continued future collaboration, says Jenny Greberg at Luleå University of Technology.

– We are proud to have contributed to the SIMS project. We look forward to bringing that specific experience and our broad international experience of mining innovation into the next project, says Niclas Dahlström.

Three years ago, an announcement in the EU’s largest innovation program Horizon 2020 made it possible for the mining industry and academia to develop and apply new mining technology through SIMS. The EU’s response to the application for NEXGEN SIMS is expected in early 2021.

– Now we are hoping for a positive response from the EU, concludes Niclas Dahlström.

Facts:

The SIMS innovation project began in 2017 and lasted three years. The total budget was SEK 168 million, with the EU providing the bulk of the funding through its framework program for research and innovation, Horizon 2020. Of the total budget, close to SEK 37 million funded Luleå University of Technology’s research, development and innovation of intelligent mining systems. SIMS’ goal was to develop the mining industry in the EU with a focus on growing employment and improving operations in terms of sustainability, safety, and more.

Learn more about the SIMS project at simsmining.eu.

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