A team of SCT Engineers led by Dr Rob Jeffrey and Dr Ken Mills travelled to Sweden in May to undertake the first full-scale hydraulic fracturing trial at LKAB’s Kiirunavaara Mine in Northern Sweden. The SCT team consisting of Dr Rob Jeffrey, Dr Ken Mills, Jesse Puller and Kenny Mills worked collaboratively with a team from CSIRO’s Melbourne hydraulic fracturing group and a select group of Engineers from LKAB’s R&D, project and operational rock mechanics departments.Team Photo Top Row from Left: Amirali Soroush, Kevin Quinlan, Dane Kasperczyk from CSIRO, Ken Mills, Rob Jeffrey from SCT, Sakari Liikavainio, Kerstin Viippola from LKAB. Front Row from Left: Kenny Mills from SCT, Emil Kårvik from Protec Norr, Jesse Puller from SCT.
The project was a world first, with the primary objective of the trial designed to provide an understanding of the way hydraulic fractures propagated in a highly stressed rock mass in the deeper parts of the mine. SCT and CSIRO installed a number of advanced monitoring systems designed to characterise the extent, shape, orientation, symmetry and interaction of multiple hydraulic fractures.
The project is of significant importance to LKAB and the future operations of the Kiirunavaara Mine. The high profile project was detailed in a recent version of LKAB’s internal publication. It is hoped that an understanding of hydraulic fracture growth in a complex geological environment gained in the trial can be used to design and implement large-scale hydraulic fracture preconditioning in the future to control seismicity in the mine.