Customer case

Mining equipment gets tough on downtime with Hardox® 600

April 20, 2022 6 min read

Harbor in Narvik, Norway, where LKAB has enormous processing and material handling facilities using Hardox® 600 wear plate in chutes and skips.

Case details

Product Hardox® 600
Country Norway
Company LKAB
Industry Raw material handling

Need to dig deeper for productivity? Mining and materials company LKAB uses Hardox® 600 to get better wear resistance and longer service in extreme environments.

Case details

Product Hardox® 600
Country Norway
Company LKAB
Industry Raw material handling

How LKAB benefits from the superior wear resistance of Hardox® 600:

  • Cuts unscheduled maintenance and downtime
  • Reduces costs due to downtime 
  • Gets improved abrasion and wear resistance
  • Machinery has a more uniform quality over a longer service life
  • Gains peace of mind in long partnership with SSAB 

LKAB’s operations in Narvik harbor

How to put a stop to unplanned stops?

As a major iron ore and mineral mining company, LKAB can’t afford any loss in productivity. Unscheduled downtime can severely impact throughput and, in turn, financial performance. When LKAB started to experience too many unplanned shutdowns – and unwanted associated costs – they turned to SSAB. They knew that one factor they could control in their operations was the quality of the material in their mining equipment. They understood that the material choice for their skips and chutes would have a crucial impact on their entire operations.

A blue and yellow mining skip and chute made in hard and tough Hardox wear steel.

“Meets all our strictest requirements”

LKAB’s experience with Hardox® wear plate goes back several years. But recently, the company’s requirements for service life and more advanced solutions became more acute. They needed to unload higher volumes at LKAB’s biggest harbor in Narvik, Norway, which led to increased wear and fewer opportunities to perform maintenance. At the Narvik harbor, LKAB handles nearly 30 million tonnes of iron ore each year. The harbor is ice-free year round, and deep enough to accommodate ocean-going vessels.

That’s when Hardox® 600 stepped in to handle the demands created by increased wear and longer maintenance intervals. Hardox® 600 can withstand high impact, abrasion and pressure, making it ideal for extreme wear conditions. Hardox® 600 can still be easily cut and welded, making it a great choice for high-performance applications. And it is extremely hard – not just on the surface, but throughout its entire thickness down to the core. This means that wear will not vary over time. “What we were looking for was a material which could maintain a uniform quality over a long service life,” says Evert Nilsfors from LKAB in Norway. “Hardox® 600 has proved it can meet all our strictest requirements.”

LKAB employee worker working on a huge blue chute.

Hauling heavy loads without excess machinery weight

The company decided to conduct a performance optimization project with SSAB. In mines, lifting massive volumes of material and withstanding the pummeling of hard or sharp rock puts nearly any machine under immense strain. Mining skips and transport equipment must be extremely rugged to maintain productivity. Also, the skip has to be designed to carry large, heavy loads without being too heavy itself. So, what materials are best for the job? Aluminum is commonly used because of its excellent strength to weight ratio. But it simply can’t take the heavy wear and tear. That’s why LKAB lined its skips with a high-strength AR steel, Hardox® 600.

Massive mining conveyors that use extremely abrasion-resistant Hardox® wear steel.

Gets a hard-wearing product and holistic solution

But LKAB didn’t just want a hard-wearing material. They wanted the entire solution to be as cost-effective as possible. How did they achieve this?
Wear is rarely evenly distributed in an application. Instead, there are areas of heavier wear in which thicker plate needs to be used. On the other hand, there is no point using thicker material in low-wear areas.
Through a careful analysis of drawings and flows, an optimum solution for the whole mine chute was designed. The result? All parts of the chute have the same service life, with maximum benefit from the wear-resistant steel.
“Previously, shutdowns were unplanned, and that increased costs,” Nilsfors concludes. “It’s been a huge benefit that we can now plan our maintenance.”

Two smiling employees in hardhats at Narvik harbor in Sweden.

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