It’s all about the weather. Sydvaranger Gruve is situated in extreme northeastern Norway, 400 kilometers above the Arctic Circle. Despite winter temperatures reaching minus 25 degrees Celsius, the weather challenge is no match for Atlas Copco equipment.
The 35-square-kilometer iron ore mining concession is located on the slopes near the small town of Kirkenes. The nearest city is Murmansk, in Russia, and the Bjørnevatn open pit mine is only a few hundred meters from the border. Decline in demand and falling ore prices led to the mine’s closing in the late 1990s, but it was reopened in 2009 by Australian-listed Northern Iron Ltd.
The conditions at Sydvaranger Gruve pose a challenge for all types of equipment, says Rune Mjørud Hansen, District Manager for Atlas Copco Compressor Technique Scandinavia. His group has delivered air dryers, oil-injected rotary screw compressors and oil-free compressors to the reopened mine.
Sydvaranger Gruve chose dryers for their plant that give them clean, dry air with a guaranteed dew point of at least minus 40 degrees Celsius,” Hansen says. “Compressed air is the heart of the production. If the air freezes, production comes to a halt.
Energy efficiency has also been a strong selling point. “Compressors may not be the biggest energy users, but the shortest route to superior productivity is to minimize operational cost,” Hansen says. “Low pressure drop and dynamic control with dew-point-dependent switching was essential. By choosing our frequency-controlled oil-free compressor, which can provide precise pressure control, it’s not unusual to have energy savings up to 35%.”
Atlas Copco has also delivered several different types of drills and tophammer rigs as well as lighting sets to Sydvaranger.
“If the air freezes, production comes to a halt.” Rune Mjørud Hansen, Atlas Copco Compressor Technique Scandinavia