03 Aitik copper mine, Sweden

03 Aitik copper mine, Sweden


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This third programme deals with just one mine – but what an exceptional mine it is. Boliden’s Aitik copper mine, north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden, is where the blanket of forests in Swedish Lapland give way to Europe’s largest copper mine.

During the past 40 years the removal of over a billion tonnes of rock has resulted in a hole 3-kilometres long, 1-kilometre wide and 400m deep.

The extraction of 43 million tonnes of rock a year requires extreme machines, some of them the only ones of their kinds to be found in Europe. Two immense electric rope shovels – P&H 4100A and a 1,300-tonne Bucyrus 495B11 – are accompanied by a 500-tonne class Komatsu PC5500 electro-hydraulic excavator.

Large excavators require massive haulers. Trucks in the DVD unique to Europe at the time of filming are Caterpillar 793D and C series, as well as Lectra Haul MT4000 diesel-electrics, which when fully loaded weighs close to 400 tonnes. The last of these ageing dinosaurs were cut up for scrap soon after we filmed them.

The programme also includes other earthmoving machinery from Aitik, including two nearly 200-tonne Cat 994 wheel loaders and a Cat D10 dozer. We also show the complete mining process including a truly memorable blasting. The story is completed with rock crushing, grinding and primary copper extraction.

This 76-minute programme is number three in the Massive Machines series.

Researched and scripted by Steven Vale, it was filmed by Roger Wiltshire and directed by Jonathan Theobald. Narrated by David Holt, this DVD was produced by Old Pond Publishing in 2008.


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