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Asle Thrives on the Job for Over 20 Years: "Variety and Camaraderie are Key"

In Norway's Hardanger region, nestled along the shores of Sørfjorden, sits Boliden Odda, one of the world's most climate-efficient zinc smelters. Here, plant operator Asle Karstensen has an impressive 22 years under his belt. What's the key to his longevity? Variety, development, and, he says, the occasional brush with history.

Asle Karstensen has worked at Boliden Odda's smelter for 22 years. Before that, he worked at the smelter that was established on the site in the 1920s. The smelter once made Sørfjorden one of the most polluted marine environments in the world. But in the 1970s, Boliden began a systematic effort to clean up the fjord, and it is now considered so clean that fish and shellfish from there are considered safe to eat.

In today's dynamic labor market, remaining in the same job for 22 years is certainly uncommon. So, why has Asle at stayed on so long?
"It's a varied job where no day is the same," he says. "What we do is completely controlled by what the readings look like for the day: are there any deviations, what do we need to act on? We always work as a team, and we have a strong sense of camaraderie. That's an important reason why I enjoy it."

Another driving force for Asle is the opportunity to analyze and optimize processes.
"An important part of the job is to review the processes and come up with ways to make them even more efficient," he says. "If you're technically minded, it's always interesting to think in terms of development and improvement: that's a fundamental part of being a plant operator."

Two Decades of Technological Advancement  

Technological development is moving rapidly, and Boliden is known for promoting and embracing innovation and automation. What are the biggest differences in Asle's everyday work life now compared to 22 years ago?
"There has been a lot of technological development with much more advanced process controls," he says. "We have more modern systems with less manual labor compared to what it was like in the old electrolysis hall where I worked before."

If you ask Asle about memorable events in his career, he will tell you something that seems like a big deal to an outsider: He was the one who shut down the old smelter for the very last time. But for Asle, it was just another day at work. For him, it was more significant and memorable to start working in the new and modern electrolysis hall, with a higher degree of automation and more efficient control processes.


An Increasing Focus on Sustainability  

The company's commitment to sustainability and the green transition reflects a similar long-term vision. While the focus has intensified in recent years, Asle emphasizes that it's not a new concept. The electrolysis hall's technology has always prioritized energy efficiency.

This emphasis is unsurprising given Boliden Odda's ambitious goal of becoming the world's most climate-efficient zinc smelter. Perhaps this ingrained focus on sustainability contributes to the enduring variety, development, and enjoyable nature of the workplace, even after 22 years. If so, Asle Karstensen's long and fulfilling career at Boliden serves as a testament to this.



Boliden Head Office

Boliden Group
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P.O. Box 44, SE-101 20 Stockholm
Tel: + 46 8 610 15 00
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