Access control maintains mine security

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ASSA’s ARX access control system maintains security and prevents unauthorized access to LKAB’s mines in Malmfälten, northern Sweden.

On a typical weekday, 1,100 vehicles and more than 2,000 people visit Malmberget – and twice as many visit Kiruna. On occasions when the mines are shut down for repair and maintenance there can be as many as 850 additional contractors crawling like ants all over the Malmberget facility. A steady stream of cars makes its way to the gates on the perimeter of LKAB’s facilities, where visitors are required to use access cards to enter.

“The strict entry procedures provide full control over who is in the area,” says Ronnie Hansson, section manager. Together with Jari Ylmefors, security engineer at PIB, Fire/Inspection/Security, Hansson is responsible for safety and perimeter security at LKAB’s facilities in Sweden, located in Kiruna, Malmberget, Svappavaara and Luleå.

“Only authorized personnel are permitted in the area,” says Hansson. “We have to know who is here in case there’s an incident.”

“In order to get in, all personnel must pass through some form of access control, mostly through rotating gates,” says Ylmefors. “People have to be authorized, which means they need safety training and a permit.

“At the south entrance to the Kiruna facility vehicle license plates are photographed, as this is a feature that can be integrated within ARX access control. The system then checks whether the vehicle is permitted to enter the area. After a two-year trial, it may now be time to extend this feature to the entrances at all of the facilities.”

Safety is obviously of utmost importance and all employees who work underground at LKAB’s mines wear special tags that reflect their authorization levels. Blasting cannot begin unless the ARX system reports that everyone has left the area.

A total of 17,000 access cards are in use in LKAB’s mines. Employees who work underground are issued both an access card and a tag, while those who work above ground manage with just the access card. In addition to access, the multi-function cards are also used at the staff restaurant, to provide authorization for refueling company vehicles onsite, and for visual identification. In future, the cards may also be used to gain access to electronic key cabinets.

The only way to receive an access card¬ – whether you’re an employee or a contractor – is to complete a two-part interactive safety-training program.

“Historically, we’ve used ASSA’s access systems,” says Ylmefors, explaining that LKAB is in the process of replacing RiTA, an earlier-generation ASSA product, with ARX. Before the end of the year, Ylmefors expects that ARX will be used for the entire perimeter security system.