LKAB to develop own train drivers as iron ore ramp-up progresses

Swedish iron ore producer LKAB will start training its own crew of train drivers as the granting of a new mining permit brings it closer to realising its growth plans, the miner said this week.

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Sweden’s Land & Environment Superior Court approved LKAB’s environmental plan for the Mertainen deposit on Wednesday June 18, where the company will be allowed to mine and process 15 million tpy of iron ore.

The state-owned miner now awaits the judgement to gain legal force before starting preparatory work and recruitment for the mine, but the permit is already a key step forward in its growth plans to raise output by 35% to 37 million tpy.

In a related development this week, LKAB has terminated part of its iron ore delivery agreement with Swedish rail logistics provider Green Cargo.

The miner will, together with Green Cargo, start training new train drivers to move iron ore between Kiruna in northern Sweden and the port of Narvik in Norway from July 1, 2015.

”It’s important that we secure our need [for] train drivers for the upcoming volume increase,” Anders Björnström, ceo of ore transport division LKAB Malmtrafik, said. “It’s an advantage for LKAB, but also for the drivers [who will belong to Swedish trade union IF Metall].”

LKAB plans to increase daily ore trains from ten to 13 as it ramps up rail capacity for iron ore deliveries to 40 million tpy alongside the output increase. It already has its own train drivers in Norway and expects to have a fully-integrated pool of 100 drivers by 2018.

The company also plans to invest as much as SKr1.5 billion ($225 million) in a new terminal at the port of Narvik as it boosts its logistics chain, sources told Steel First in February.

Green Cargo will still handle iron ore shipments between LKAB’s main mine at Malmberget and Sweden’s Baltic Sea port of Luleå, the iron ore producer said.

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