Five questions for Copperstone’s Infrastructure and Logistics Manager

Thomas, you have almost 40 years’ experience with infrastructure and logistics in a career that took you around the world from the US to Indonesia and Saudi Arabia before you returned to Kiruna to help develop one of the most efficient rail transports for ore in all of Europe. What brought you to Copperstone Resources?

I am motivated by challenges and when Copperstone asked if I could help develop a sustainable and efficient Infrastructure & Logistics system, I said Yes immediately! Being able to use my knowledge and experience to be involved in designing a completely new system felt like a really fun challenge. My previous experiences, from the other two mines that I have worked with, already had existing systems to start from, but to start with a “white paper/green field” was too fun to say no to. At the same time, as a native Kiruna resident, I have a kind of patriotism and drive that I want to help the community here to grow and secure a good future for all current and future Kiruna residents. If I can make a difference, I will help!

Copperstone has worked hard the past years to revive the Viscaria copper mine in Kiruna. Efficient infrastructure is critical to make the company competitive. What has been your key focus in ensuring the logistics and infrastructure is in place?

When you work with infrastructure, you have to realize that it usually takes a long time and requires a lot of planning, and that it must be in place in advance so that the other parts of the process can be built. That is why we have already built our own entrance with a bridge over the Malmbanan, that we have a pilot water treatment system in place and enough electricity to build all the facilities needed before we have built the permanent energy supply. For both the connection of our planned railway yard to the ore railway and access to electrical power, we have signed early agreements for these services with the Swedish Transport Administration and Vattenfall.

“We  have already
developed preliminary design proposals for the entire power supply, water and sewage systems, heating, and transportation on the site.”

There is a lot of talk about Sweden’s malmbanan, which is critical for transporting iron ore and other goods to transportation hubs in Narvik and south to Luleå. What is Copperstone’s plan to eventually transport the thousands of tons of copper concentrate and iron ore?

We will produce 140,000 tons of copper concentrate and 450,000 tons of iron ore concentrate annually. All of this is meant to go by rail because it is so much more sustainable and efficient than transport with rubber tires. As for the iron ore, it will most likely go north because it is logistically most efficient and Narvik is Europe’s largest iron ore shipping port. As for the copper concentrate, there is the possibility of driving south directly to the smelter in Skelleftehamn or north to Narvik and on by boat to smelters within the EU. The capacity addition from Copperstone is one train per day, five days a week, or in percentage terms, about 3% of what currently runs on the Malmbanan, which in no way should cause any problems according to both the Swedish Transport Administration’s and our own analyses. 

There are other infrastructure issues to be managed, such as power and water. What is your plan?

Within our Infrastructure department, we have developed preliminary design proposals for the entire power supply, water and sewage, heating, roads, etc., which only need to be finalized with the needs of our mining and process department and the environmental permit that we expect to come in the spring of 2024.

Many smaller miners around the world have failed because they underestimated the critical importance of infrastructure and logistics to be able to mine in a cost-efficient way. Will Copperstone be ready?

With our corporate culture, good mix of people, experiences, our selected partners and with a big heart and drive, we will fix this! Another advantage is that we have three of Sweden’s largest mining companies in our neighborhood that we can compare ourselves with, and that the people and communities in Malmfälten and Tornedalen are used to and know what it means to support an efficient mining industry.