LKAB's plan is to reopen the Mertainen mine near Svappavaara in Lapland in Sweden, about 30 km southeast of the town of Kiruna, to produce more iron ore. The intention is to resume mine operation in the autumn and build up a stock of crude ore. The ore is chiefly magnetite with small amounts of hematite. The deposit has a few small massive magnetite bodies and a larger volume of low grade ore made up of host-rock intruded by magnetite veins. The host rock is made up of scapolite and biotite-altered Syenite Porphyry. The Syenite Porphyry display magnetite nodules. Most of the deposit has a low phosphorus grade 0.05% but in the northeast phosphorus grades are higher 0.2 to 0.9%. Planning for the start of mine production is under way and involves, among other tasks, securing mineral resources. The mine will be operated with LKAB's own personnel and contractors. In all, this will mean about 50 jobs in Mertainen. Mining permits are already in place, though further preparations have to be made for stockpiling. No major transports on Highway E10 have as yet been planned. Mine blasting will have no impact on traffic on the E10, something which is only expected to occur if mining is prolonged and the production area approaches the highway.
The decision to prepare Mertainen for mining was taken in 2010, when the prices of coarse iron ore fines were high. After a drawn-out permitting process the market had changed, such that LKAB saw no profitability in a production start-up. By then, the area had already been prepared, with construction of roads, stripping of overburden, waste rock dumps and permanent equipment for crushing and dressing. These facilities can now be activated for a resumption of mining.
The Mertainen mine was mothballed in 2016 in response to a change in the market situation, the idea being to keep the mine in a state of preparedness to meet future needs. Now, the market has changed, resulting in increased demand for crude ore in LKAB's iron ore business area, a consequence, not least, of the seismic event which occurred in the Kiruna mine in May 2020 and continues to hold back production.