Norilsk Nickel and PhosAgro Plans to Use Alternative Energy in Arctic

Russian mining companies, working in the polar region, will adopt the Western counterparts’ experience in production’s automation, director for technical development at the Apatit Company (a part of PhosAgro), Alexander Kalugin, told a mining conference, organized during the Days of Finland in Murmansk.

“Finland is far ahead of Russia in terms of production automation,” he said on Wednesday. “We adopt their experience – for example, we have pilot projects on automation of drilling; this is the first step towards digital technologies.”

The company sees as one of priorities a bigger use of remote control technologies, when a person does not have to get inside a mine to carry out drilling or to deliver ore, he added.

Among other implemented high-tech projects, he noted Wi-Fi networks in mines. “Thus, we can see immediately where a person is, or what is going on there,” he continued. “Digital technologies are our future.”

Other enterprises implement similar projects. According to the Kola MMC (a part of Norilsk Nickel), at the Severnyi mine the company in 2017 launched a system to position workers and machinery. Control over movement of miners and motor transport in mines is done by a hardware-software complex, which has unique identifiers – marks, which are installed into the head lamp of each miner, and which are fixed onboard the self-propelled equipment. In addition, each miner has a voice communication device to contact via Wi-Fi the dispatcher and subscribers on the surface.

Apatit’s another important area of work is use of alternative energy sources to replace ecology-unfriendly oil fuel and diesel. Currently, the company uses liquefied gas just for heating air in mines. “Of course, we are interested, for example, to have heavy trucks use not diesel but liquefied gas or other alternative fuels,” the company’s representative said. “However, here we face the problem of how to deliver the fuel, since the Murmansk Region does not have reliable gas supplies – thus, we are open to different proposals.”