System 800xA for remote-control rock breaking at Boliden Garpenberg mine

Moving people away from hazards

Deploying technology of the Internet of Things, Services and People to boost safety and productivity in underground mining

Bringing mobile and remote technologies underground

Garpenberg’s lead, silver and zinc has been mined since the 13th century. Successful exploration, coupled with industry-leading technological development, has enabled an expansion of Boliden’s Garpenberg Mine, located in Hedemora, 180 km from Stockholm. The investment totaled SEK 3.9 billion and will increase production from 1.4 million tons of ore per year to 2.5 million tons by 2015.

As a part of the expansion project, Boliden enlisted ABB to deploy technologies of the “Internet of Things, Services and People” concept, extending the immense productivity benefits that are increasingly coming to the aide of process industries to a new environment: deep underground.

ABB’s System 800xA automation platform at Garpenberg not only controls its powerful mill drives, hoists and the electricity coursing through the mine’s high-voltage transformers to coordinate sub-operations once seen as separate tasks. ABB incorporated mobile and remote technologies to move people away from hazards and further increase productivity with the new remote rock breaking project.

Main facts

Industry Mining and minerals processing
Customer Boliden Garpenberg
Country Sweden

System 800xA

Remote-control rock breaking system

The project includes two ABB remote control stations with ABB remote control desks as well as process and safety controllers, all of which are being integrated along with a real-time video system into the ABB System 800xA automation platform. ABB also developed a 3D simulator, to aid in training and to verify the rock breaker’s remote control system.

The 800xA will integrate rock breakers and their hydraulics within Garpenberg’s unified system of mill drives, hoists, ventilation and crushing equipment, coordinating what had been fragmented sub-operations into seamless tasks. All fixed equipment can now be controlled from the same control system, ensuring safety and boosting efficiency.

With the remote-control rock breaker, Boliden crews on the surface can continue rock breaking a kilometer or more below ground without pausing for shift changes or waiting until blasting has been completed, meaning they can significantly boost productivity while simultaneously reducing the potential for accidents.

“ABB’s remote control technology will make the operation of the rock breakers underground safer and more efficient by enabling operation in a remote station above the ground during blasting and shift changes,” says Patrik Westerlund, product manager for underground mine automation at ABB. “The modularized design will also allow Boliden to add more rock breakers as the mine expands by simply adding another ABB remote control station to the network.”
Patrik Westerlund, ABB product manager
“The modularized design will also allow Boliden to add more rock breakers as the mine expands by simply adding another ABB remote control station to the network.”

Products enabling breaking rocks more safely

Among automation products being delivered by ABB for the rock breaking system are AC800 High Integrity process and safety controllers, four ABB Rock Breaker Remote Control units, ABB remote control desks and the company’s Jokab safety equipment, ranging from gates, light curtains, warning lights and emergency stops.

During the course of the project, ABB developed the 3D simulator to help verify the functionality of the remote control system as well as to provide a new training tool for companies like Boliden that are seeking to maximize production by boosting the effectiveness of their employees.

ABB’s contributions have helped make Garpenberg one of the world's most cost-effective and automated modern mines.

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