Advanced technologies are enabling the minerals industry to explore and operate with ever-increasing efficiency. LKAB (Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB) is a renowned high-tech international minerals group and world leading producer of processed iron ore products for steelmaking. We had the chance to speak to Senior Vice President Per-Erik Lindvall about the biggest challenges for suppliers in the current market and the most promising technological developments for the industry.
IMM Events: LKAB describes itself as a “small player” in the global market place. What are the biggest challenges for a small supplier in the current economic environment?
Per-Erik Lindvall: Two things: firstly, cost control is necessary to stay competitive in the market. Secondly, our products have to give maximum added-value to our customer. We therefore need to be in the technical and innovative forefront of the industry in order to provide the best products.
IMM Events: Is there any advice you would give to other smaller players trying to grow their business?
Per-Erik Lindvall: The advice depends on your beliefs about future trends for prices, currencies and costs. Nobody knows this for sure. My general advice is that, if you are on a big expedition, make sure that you are properly equipped, and that you have a good map and capable friends. And pray for some luck. But remember that luck is something you deserve.
IMM Events: Urban transformation is a central part of your business model. Can you tell us a bit more about what this means in practice?
Per-Erik Lindvall: Once when the mining operations started more than a hundred years in both Malmberget and Kiruna, people needed to live close to the mines due to the fact the commuting was difficult. No one could at that time imagine that the mines would still be in operation and at such deep levels. Neither could the full consequences on the surface due to the mining be fully recognised. Continued mining means that we have to move parts of Malmberget and Kiruna. This has happened before in both places, but the size of the transformation is far bigger today. Still you have to remember that the transformation is something that will be going for a long time, for more than 30 years. Our aim is to create attractive communities. That’s how we will be able to recruit skilled personnel.
IMM Events: LKAB is investing heavily in R&D. What are the most promising projects you are currently working on? What makes them stand out?
Per-Erik Lindvall: Our customer promise “Performance in Ironmaking” is the leading star that we follow in every R&D program. We try our very best to create added-value for our customers through all our R&D programs. Of course carbon footprint is something that we look very much into. We believe that our Green Pellets, together with the findings within the European Ulcos (ultra-low carbon emission steel) project can make a difference for the climate. We are bringing new ore bodies into production and that is always a challenge. As a small player on the global market you have to make sure that your cost structure is competitive and that is of course something that always have to be addressed in our R&D programs.
IMM Events: You will be speaking at the 8th annual EU Iron Ore conference. What issues would you like to discuss with your industry peers at the event?
Per-Erik Lindvall: I hope we can initiate a discussion about how growth and development requires steel, and how we as an industry can contribute to innovative solutions that build a better tomorrow.