LTU pursues world class research with mining industry companies
Mining and mineral related research is one of the largest single research areas at Luleå University of Technology (LTU). Financially speaking it amounts to almost one third and several basic courses have a bearing on this. LTU has been given the assignment of winning the leader’ s jersey in mining and minerals in connection with the 2008 government research bill and a grant of SEK 90 million over 5 years.
And it’ s not just the state that has shown great interest. Mining and prospecting companies participate in many joint projects such as in LTU’ s very close cooperation with the LKAB mining giant, which has donated SEK 150 million to finance a special research centre and several professorial chairs. Also Boliden and to a certain extent the Zinkgruvan mine, are involved in such collaboration.
LTU measures up well internationally too. For example, together with the mining industry and universities in eight EU countries, it is leading a project to create methods for finding ores at great depths.
“Most deposits close to the surface have been discovered. The challenge is to create methods for searching at depth and finding bodies of ore that are at depths of just over a kilometre. Among other things we are using 3D modelling and indirect methods such as seismology and electromagnetism. We always need to drill for verification, but it’ s a matter of knowing how to drill in the right place. Swedish bedrock is two billion years old, and during this time it has been folded and displaced. This makes forecasting where recoverable ore will be a complex task,” explains Pär Weihed, Professor of Ore Geology at LTU
Work is currently in progress in gathering mining research to a special centre for advanced mining technology and metallurgy (CAMM). But LTU is not just working on advanced projects together with big, established companies.
“Many prospecting companies are small and do not have the same opportunities to participate in big, long-term collaborations. This is where we contribute with projects within e.g. micro-analytical prospecting,” says Pär Weihed.