In what is arguably the biggest news out of Sweden since word came that ABBA was recording again, major Swedish mining players, LKAB, Epiroc, ABB and Volvo have joined forces to create Sustainable Underground Mining.
Part of SUM will be a virtual mine in LKAB's underground operations in Kiruna and Malmberget in northern Sweden. However, the plan goes further than that. The four organisations will work together to develop mining equipment of the future.
Sound familiar? A virtual mine is one of the key areas Australia's METS industry growth centre METS Ignited was looking into. Another area METS Ignited has been pushing is collaboration and at SUM both are being done in spades.
One of the drivers for the Swedish test mine is the move towards more "sustainable" mining.
This will need new control systems, new and improved mining equipment and complex and efficient management systems that meet the future demands of a sustainable industry.
The Swedes have recognised that reaching that goal will demand a different type of collaboration, a digital ecosystem in which the partners' digital systems and operations are linked.
"Sweden's mining and minerals industry is competing to be the world's most sustainable," Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg said.
"Since sustainability requirements and technology are now developing at a rapid pace, Swedish companies have to join forces to ensure that we can mine safely and sustainably in the future.
"That bodes well for a mining nation like Sweden."
LKAB's involvement in the program has been driven by its realisation that it will have to mine at greater depth in the Kiruna and Malmberget mines.
To do that it will have to make a decision on one of Sweden's largest ever industrial investments by the mid-2020s.
The company has worked closely with Sweden's underground mining equipment makers in the past.
LKAB president and CEO Jan Mostrom said had a longstanding tradition of innovation.
He said to secure long-term competitiveness LKAB had to find new ways and smarter solutions for continued mining iron ore deposits deeper in its underground mines.
"We are proud to enter into one of the biggest collaborative ventures in Sweden today, a venture involving industry leaders that are contributing to expertise and technical resources," Mostrom said.
"Together we will develop a future mining industry that is sustainable, safe, carbon dioxide free, digitalised and autonomous."
Epiroc president and CEO Per Lindberg said he was proud to be part of the collaborative effort to develop the world's most modern mining operation.
"This aligns well with our focus on autonomous and battery-operated products and solutions that improve productivity and safety in the mines," Lindberg said.