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New major EU project on sustainable mining

Published: 10 May 2021

Luleå University of Technology is the only Swedish university that participates in a new large project on autonomous carbon neutral sustainable mining. In EU-funded NEXGEN SIMS, technology, methods and processes that will enable a more sustainable and efficient carbon neutral mining operation will be developed.

The three-year project has a budget of SEK 169 million, of which close to SEK 43 million goes to Luleå University of Technology.
– It is great that we continue the successful work that began with the SIMS project as early as 2016. Digital mining systems are crucial for the sustainable mining industry of the future. The new project consolidates the University's role as Europe's mining university and strengthens our collaboration with Epiroc, says Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Vice-Chancellor of Luleå University of Technology.

NEXGEN SIMS is coordinated by mining equipment and service supplier Epiroc. The collaboration project gathers  mimining companies, services and system suppliers 
European universities and other actors.

Safety in focus

A key aspect of the project is to develop autonomous carbon neutral mining processes. This includes the use of battery-electric mining equipment, full utilization of 5G for optimal connectivity and positioning, autonomous material handling, AI powered traffic and fleet control and collaboration among machines. The project is also focusing on the mine worker of the future – "the modern miner" – and safety, for example by developing autonomous mine inspection technology. 

– We participate in the development of the modern fossil-free autonomous mine of the future, which is necessary to ensure a sustainable supply of the raw materials society needs for the green transition, but also for an increased standard of living globally. We are happy and proud to work with the world-leading actors who are part of the project. The fact that so many research groups from Luleå University of Technology participate in the project is proof of our wide range of knowledge, as well as our position as a leading mining university, says Jenny Greberg, associate professor of mining and rock engineering at Luleå University of Technology and the university's partner manager for NEXGEN SIMS.

Luleå University of Technology has a wide range of research within the project:

Mining and Rock Engineering will develop transformation and design strategies for underground mines electrification and automation, develop a dynamic loading control system and develop educational modules based on VR.
The Robotics and AI team is focusing in creating autonomy for enabling the next generation of resilient autonomous field operations, including drones and mining machines.
Human Work Science will work with issues related to the work environment and the social dimension. They will formulate a vision for the future mining workplaces on human terms – the vision of the Digital Miner.
Pervasive and Mobile Computing with their expertise in VR/game content and development and VFX art, will do VR environment development both for educational modules and for project outreach
Process IT Innovations will be responsible for project clustering and international cooperation.

LTU Business leads the project's part regarding communication, business development and education.
– Through the project, we can develop the business models of the future for the mining industry and increase knowledge about its efforts to become sustainable, says LTU Business CEO Gry Holmgren Hafskjold.