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Sweden to invest in robotic mining technology

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

The Swedish government plans to invest $100 million Krona in research to make the mining, mineral and steel industry more effective. And one innovation aims to steer more mining work offsite via remote control.

Some researchers and mining companies say many Swedish mines could be completely robotic within 20 years.

"We will always have to check on things of course, but I definitely think that remote control is the future," says Gustaf Blomberg, who works as a loader almost 800 meters underground in Kiruna mine, in Sweden's Far North.

Much of the loading in the LKAB-owned Kiruna mine is already controlled by computers, joysticks and TV-screens.

Jan Johansson, a scientist based in the northern city of Luleå, sees big possibilities for a mining company that can decrease the number of employees working underground, both for environmental and work safety reasons.

"You could have a global shift. First you work in Kiruna, then you are sent over to Shanghai, and then to Lima or something like that," he told Swedish Radio.

"But I think it is more likely that you will have a control center in Kiruna, that controls [nearby] Svappavaara and a few other smaller mines."

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.