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Iron Ore and Ice Weighing in Extreme Conditions

06-20-2012 08:52 PM CET | Industry, Real Estate & Construction

Press release from: Mettler-Toledo International Inc.

The Arctic can be brutal on weighing equipment. When a Swedish mining company needed vehicle scales that would stand up to this far northern climate, it turned to METTLER TOLEDO. The solution was POWERCELL technology with its proven ability to weigh accurately and reliably in extreme environments.

Founded in 1890, the Swedish mining company Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag (LKAB) mines iron ore in Kiruna, 145 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. Throughout the course of a year, Kiruna is subjected to an extreme range of temperatures. It faces icy winters with temperatures as low as - 40° Celsius (- 40° Fahrenheit) and summers during which the midnight sun heats the air to 30° Celsius (+ 86° Fahrenheit).

In Kiruna, LKAB runs the world's largest and most advanced iron ore mining operation. It digs high-purity magnetic iron ore from mines in the two mountains of Kiirunavaara and Luossavaara. After extracting the iron ore, LKAB processes it into pellets the size of cherries. The small size of the pellets allows them to be melted quickly at lower temperatures.

The high-quality pellets are automatically loaded onto 68 rail wagons, each weighing 121 tons. They are then sent on a 173-kilometer journey through the tundra and Arctic landscape to the port of Narvik on Norway's Atlantic coast. From there, cargo ships transport them to customers throughout the world. Before this valuable cargo is shipped overseas, it is weighed in Kiruna by three METTLER TOLEDO dynamic rail scales. The first scale weighs the empty wagons, the second weighs the wagons as they are filled, and the third weighs the wagons again at an unloading station.

"While the train is moving, the first scale weighs the empty wagons and transmits results to the filling station," explains Jeff Holcomb, European Market Manager for METTLER TOLEDO vehicle scales. Holcomb negotiated the sales conditions with LKAB and worked with Lars Olsson (Sales) and Harry Koski (Service) of the METTLER TOLEDO market organization in Sweden to coordinate the delivery and installation of the scales.

The in-motion weighing system uses the difference between the weight of each empty wagon and the permissible total weight to determine how much iron ore to load into the wagons. The second scale then establishes the actual weight of each filled wagon.

LKAB must ensure that the wagons are accurately filled to the permissible total weight. If the wagons are overfilled, there is a risk that pellets could fall from the wagons during transport or that the weight could place too much strain on the track system. If the wagons are not sufficiently filled, they are not being used to their full capacity.

While the filling operation can be monitored and controlled, there is no way to control the weather in the far north of Sweden. The harsh climate 145 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle includes temperature differences of up to 70 ° Celsius (158 ° Fahrenheit). This can have a huge impact on the accuracy and durability of a scale.

How do the METTLER TOLEDO rail scales withstand these extreme conditions and continue to provide highly accurate weighing? "Our rail scale system is equipped with POWERCELL load cells", says Holcomb. "POWERCELL load cells are designed in such a way that they can compensate for a total of seven different extreme weather conditions, such as severe cold and heat."

Following intensive comparisons with other technologies, LKAB decided to purchase rail scales from METTLER TOLEDO. Since being installed, the three rail scales have demonstrated their reliability while meeting the stringent demands of both the mining company and the local climate In Kiruna the same applies to both man and machine: exceptional conditions call for exceptional solutions. Using METTLER TOLEDO rail scales allows LKAB to master the extremes with the greatest success.

For more info:

About Mettler Toledo:
METTLER TOLEDO specializes in the area of precision instruments for professional use. METTLER TOLEDO laboratory instruments are used in research, scientific, drug discovery, and quality control labs, amongst many others in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and cosmetics industries. METTLER TOLEDO comprehensive industrial solutions cover the various steps in a host of manufacturing processes at many of the same customers that laboratory serves. Solutions range from receiving raw materials through various manufacturing processes, in-line process control and end-of-line packaging control, to logistics and shipping. Increasingly, these solutions are fully integrated into the customer's IT environment, helping automate their workflows. In food retail, our offering for fresh food management ranges from receiving and pre-packaging, to in-store solutions for self-service departments, deli counters, and checkout terminals.

Contact info:
Mettler-Toledo International Inc.
Im Langacher, Zip Code 8606,
Greifensee, Switzerland.
E-Mail :,
Phone : +41-44-944 33 85,
Website :

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