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Environmental surveys at Kiruna mines

For more than a decade, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute has measured water flows, levels in watercourses and groundwater bodies around the mining operations in Kiruna on behalf of LKAB.

The aim has been to monitor the impact of mining operations on the hydrological system, water quality and ecology. In addition, IVL has measured air quality in connection with activities in Malmberg and Kiruna since 2007.

A fundamental problem with mining operations is that when working below the groundwater level, large amounts of water must be continuously pumped out to prevent the mines from filling up with water. IVL can through water measurements describe both the natural water system. Both before mining begins and its impact during the operational phas on surrounding streams and lakes, as well as ground water can be measured. The natural water flow can also be used to control effluent flow from the mines so that environmental permits for pollutant concentrations in receiving watercourses are not exceeded. The measurements can also be used to calibrate and verify different models that can simlate future operations.

Measuring stations in multiple watercourses

IVL's monitoring system is automated and the measuring instruments are connected via logs to cloud services where LKAB can directly access raw data on the web or for important into control system. IVL delivers annual quality-assured data summaries and reports describing this information.

IVL's measuring stations are located in the rivers Liukattijoki, Mertaseno, Luossajoki, Rakkurijoki och most recently in the Per Geijer area, with the highly publicised deposit of rare earth minierals.

Air measurements on behalf of LKAB

With optical measuring instruments IVL has been measuring particle concentrations in the air with for LKAB in Kiruna, Malmberget and Koskullskulle since 2017. Every few years, meaurements of a large number of air compounds nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, ozone, hydrogen fluorides, hydrogen chlorides, metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) have been carried out on behalf of LKAB.

Partikelmätningsstation vid Malmberget

Particle measurement station at Malmberget. Photo: IVL Swedish Environmental Institute.

The Mining Dialogue

In 2018, IVL ran a co-funded research project with Boliden, LKAB, the Västerbotten County Administrative Board, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Geological Survey of Sweden and Svemin called Gruvdialogen (The Mining Dialogue). The aim of the project was to improve the environmental assessment of Swedish mines. The project resulted in the handbook "Discharges to surface water from mining activites - A handbook for describing the impact on surface water". The handbook provides guidance on how future discharges to surface water from mining activites can be described and developed.

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