Production record set at copper mine

Paul Boughton

Swedish mining company Boliden has set a new production record at its Aitik copper mine in Sweden. On July 14, 2013, 144,912 tons of ore passed through the plant, and thanks to a steadily increasing average production, July 2013 ended up being Aitik's most productive month to date with 3.5 million tons of ore.

The mine is now operating at an annual rate of 45 million tons. Boliden's official target for 2013 is to produce 38 million tons of ore in Aitik.

The new record marks a significant milestone in the collaboration between Metso and Boliden. Metso is responsible for all maintenance in the grinding mill circuit in the Aitik concentrator, and has supplied most of the equipment, including two gigantic, 11.6m by 13.7m AG grinding mills. In September 2012, the two companies signed a three-year extension of their comprehensive Life Cycle Services contract. The contract is cost-per-ton based, meaning that Metso gets paid based on Aitik's production. The higher the output, the more both parties benefit.

The higher-than-expected production rate is a result of the common efforts of both Metso's Life Cycle Services team and Boliden. Metso's service experts have a strong culture of always doing their best to work together with the customer to continuously improve their process.

"Metso has a unique way of not only maintaining, but constantly improving and developing the equipment in collaboration with our customers. This is the reason why Boliden initially chose Metso as its key supplier for both equipment and service in Aitik", says João Ney Colagrossi, President, Services Business Line, Metso Mining and Construction.

The two companies have been working together since the 1930's under various services agreements. This one-of-a-kind history has made Metso an expert in maximising mill uptime, a key factor in breaking production records at Aitik.

"Thanks to our experience, we know when to run the mills a little bit longer and just how to get a bit more out of the mill linings. At the moment, we are at 97 per cent mill availability, meaning that only 3 per cent of hours are spent on maintenance annually; everything else is production", says Christer Brännström, General Manager, SBL Operations, Sweden, Metso Mining and Construction.

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