KINDRA Final Conference, Brussels

Over the past 3 years the La Palma Research has been part of KINDRA project, aimed to gather and standardise groundwater knowledge and research across Europe by means of a EU-wide assessment of existing groundwater-related practical and scientific knowledge based on a new Hydrogeological Research Classification System (HRC-SYS), created by the project team. This classification is supported by a web-service – the European Inventory of Groundwater Research (EIGR) –acting not only as a knowledge repository but also as a tool to help identify relevant research topics, existing research trends and critical research challenges.

Panel discussion with Johan Stierna (DG Research and Innovation), Elisa Vargas (WG C, DG Environment) and Isabel Fernandez (EFG)

The project’s Final Conference in Brussels (BE) the 27th of February 2018, hosted in the Académie Royale de Bruxelles was co-organised by LPRC. The conference provided an overview of the work and measures developed, gathering feedback on the results obtained and planning for the future, so that the project outcomes -namely the EIGR- can be sustained after the end of KINDRA. Several member of the European Commission, as well as EASME, the International Association of Hydrogeologists and many more important stakeholders in science, research and groundwater were present and actively involved in Q&A and debates through the conference.

KINDRA Project ran for three years organised by a Consortium of nine partners, twenty linked third parties and ten members of the Joint Panel of Experts, making a total of twenty EU-countries collaborating. La Palma Research is proud to be part of this very important mission for the future of groundwater research.

Symposium on Social License to Operate, Leuven

On the 21st of February, a symposium took place in Leuven, and LPRC was present. The event focussed on the thematic of Transitioning to a low-carbon economy and the social license to operate for mining and recycling of critical metals.

The symposium elaborated on the paradox of the “Importance of critical metals for the transition to a low carbon, cleantech-based economy versus the not-always-so-positive image of the primary mining industry”. On one hand, Europe undoubtedly needs critical metals for the transition to a desired low carbon, cleantech economy – however, it is import dependent regarding most of the metals, needed to reach this transition. On the other hand, society often has a negative image on mining, since historical extraction gave mining a bad name.

The members of the audience, who were naturally divided into “social” and “technological” groups, had a passionate discussion about this topic and its implications to society. This shows that dialogue is crucial, and not only that, but also opens minds too, in order to arrive to a common understanding between different stakeholders.

The symposium opened with two introductory talks. The first keynote was from Serge de Gheldere (Futureproofed), who proposed business-led, sustainable solutions, resulting new businesses, reduced risks, better branding and lower costs. After the keynote speech, a panel discussion took place. The afternoon session, begin with two keynote presentations from Egbert Lox (UMICORE) and Leida Rijnhout (Friends of the Earth Europe) presenting social and industrial viewpoints. The discussions continued with a panel and Q&A session with the audience.

The event closed with an concise talk from Marcin Sadowski, Head of Raw Materials sector, EC EASME,  where he presented the overall European policy approach to achieve sustainable goals.

INTERMIN Kick off Meeting

Between the 13th and 15th of February, the INTERMIN (International Network of Raw Materials Training Centres) Consortium and Advisory Board members gathered together in Brussels, Belgium, for the kick-off meeting of INTERMIN – a 36-month H2020 Project aiming at the creation of a self-sustainable long-term lasting international network of training centres for the raw materials sector.

For that, scoping and mapping activities will be undertaken internationally, collecting information of relevant raw materials-related skills from training institutions around the globe offering a wide variety of programmes and courses. This will be followed by an assessment of the employers’ needs in terms of skills and knowledge as a means of analysing the existing gaps in the sector. This will be projected into short, medium and long timeframes. Once the gaps are identified and better understood, enhanced approaches and actions will be appraised for responding to these gaps in the sector, creating a new paradigm for international training centres in the raw materials sector.

LPRC is leading Work Package 2 (WP2): Raw materials sector skills, gaps and needs. The main tasks will be assessing the employers’ needs and developing a competency model for the raw materials sector. For that, LPRC will work closely with its project partners, particularly the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) and the French Geological Survey (BRGM).

Read more about the project at this summary.


¡VAMOS! Partner Forum, Bled

The ¡VAMOS! partner forum took place on the 31st of January in Hotel Kompas in Bled, Slovenia. In the morning, the partners discussed the lessons learnt from the first field trials that happened in October in Lee Moor, UK. Only  a few technical difficulties arose during the trials and most of these were already solved or are in the process of being solved at the moment, in a continuous effort from all the partners. Subsequently the results from the environmental tests were presented, which looked promising, although more data will need to be collected to come to any conclusions.

In the afternoon, the discussions mainly focussed on the upcoming work and plans, with the most important topic  being the second field trials in Bosnia and Herzegovina in spring. The current focus of the work is on the logistical challenges to be overcome, the preparation of the site, and careful planning and division of the various tasks.

The partners are hopeful of another successful trial!

UNEXMIN Project Partners meeting, Bled

The first UNEXMIN consortium meeting of 2018 took place during the 31st of January and 1st of February in Bled, Slovenia. The main points of discussions included the current and future developments of the UX-1 robot and the preparations for the first trial at the Kaatiala mine, Finland, in June.

The first meeting day started with a revision and update of the work developed by the project partners. In the afternoon, the UNEXMIN consortium and advisory board members – personnel with useful experience in the fields if robotics and raw materials – were separated into advisory meetings and technical UX-1 discussions. The day ended with the planning for the assembly of the UX-1 robot – to happen in Porto, Portugal, during April.

UNEXMIN project partners at the first 2018 consortium meeting

The second day was place to the further technical discussions for the present and future developments of the technology. Preparations for the first pilot trial in the Kaatiala mine in Finland were also agreed upon so everything can work properly. Following, there was a interactive discussion on exploitation measures for the UNEXMIN technology.

Preparations for the Kaatiala mine pilot test

Exploitation discussion for UNEXMIN technology

The consortium is working hard to develop the robotic system that will be able to explore and map flooded mines and other underwater environments!

¡VAMOS! & UNEXMIN joint conference, Bled

On the January 30, the Hotel Kompas in Bled, Slovenia, hosted the “Use of Robotics and Automation for Mineral Prospecting and Extraction”, a joint conference of UNEXMIN, ¡VAMOS! and Real Time Mining Projects. The conference was led by Gorazd Zibret from the Geological Survey of Slovenia. The 1-day conference featured the latest research in a variety of topics related to robotics and automation and their application to exploration and extraction of mineral raw materials. It started with a plenary session featuring presentations such as “Advances in Subsea Mining” (Stef Kapusniak) and “Future Mining: Scenarios and Roadmaps (an international review)” (Marco Konrat Martins, LPRC).

The conference was then divided into two parallel sessions: one related to Hardware developments moderated by Norbert Zajzon (University of Miskolc) and the other related to Software developments moderated by Steve Henley (Resource Computing International).

After the lunch break, the conference resumed with a plenary session introducing the leading projects. LPRC presented “UNEXMIN project: an underwater explorer for flooded mines” (Luís Lopes).

UNEXMIN / ¡VAMOS! workshops

During the afternoon, the participants were divided in two interactive workshops: one dedicated to exploitation of the technologies, the other to future research and technology roadmap planning.

On the exploitation workshop participants were called to answer three questions. The input will then be used to adapt better exploitation measures for both projects. The questions were: (1) What is the best the best exploitation strategy for project participants?, (2) How to persuade customers to buy/invest into new technologies? and, (3) How and where to get additional funds for the projects’ development?.

The research roadmap workshop focussed on analysing future scenarios and how the technologies can adapt to specific changes in the raw materials sector. Then, participants helped in the identification of future prospects in three main areas: geological data collection, spatial awareness and navigation, and extraction. The data will be used to define possible research/technology pathways for both projects for the short, medium and long-term future.

Field trip to Idrija Mercury Mine – UNESCO WHS

LPRC team participated at the fieldtrip, previous to UNEXMIN & ¡VAMOS! joint conference, to Idrija mercury (Hg) mine, west from Ljubljana. The mercury occurrence was discovered at Idrija in the 15th century, and the mining operation soon followed. Mercury is present as both liquid metal and cinnabar (HgS) – Idrija has been developed as the second largest Hg mine in the world. During the last centuries, Idrija’s miners dug over 700 km tunnels, spread across 15 levels down to 380 m depth. The estimated total production is around 150 thousand tonnes of mercury, that has been used for science, agriculture, extraction of other precious metals, amongst other uses, across Europe and worldwide(1). However, Hg mining in Europe has been shut down, together with the Idrija mine, in 1995 due to health and environmental concerns. Today the mine and the ore processing facilities are part of the UNESCO World Heritage, showcasing the rich mining history to visitors.

The mine visit showed the technological characteristics of Hg mining at different centuries. The visitors were also explained about the life of the miners, the role that Hg mining played in the economic, political, cultural aspects of Idrija, and its advantages/disadvantages.

360 degree view in the mine (drag and move the photo to look around).

The group next visited the nearby ore processing facilities and the historical exhibition of Idrija Hg mining. The ore processing facilities went through, at least, 8 major technological upgrade since 1490.

Minatura2020 Final Consortium Meeting, Brussels

The last MINATURA2020 consortium meeting took place in Brussels on the 10th January 2018. The project that is due to end by in the 31st of January is defining a very important concept for European mineral raw materials: the establishment of MDoPI – Mineral Deposits of Public Important – and how to map and protect them, so mineral raw materials can be used tomorrow.

The one-day conference that gathered the project partners, the Advisory Board members and also representatives from EASME, started with a welcome statement and an overview of the agenda. To these, then followed the presentation of the work and conclusions of 6 work packages of the MINATURA2020 project:

  • WP1 – Land use assessment
  • WP2 – Development of a harmonised mapping framework
  • WP3 – Regulatory framework
  • WP4 – Demonstration and pilot-testing of developed methodology at case study level
  • WP5 – Stakeholder involvement on mineral deposits of public importance
  • WP6 – Dissemination

After everyone was updated on the work developed through all the MINATURA2020 project, a panel discussion was held with some of the participants. The discussions of this panel worked around (1) the access to land and how to balance industries and authorities’ interests, (2) the identification of MDoPI from the Geological Surveys point of view and (3) tools and models in R&D, among other pressing themes related to the definition and real application of the MDoPI concept developed by the MINATURA 2020 consortium.

The meeting ended with some final remarks, conclusions and prospects of what was done in the project and what are the next steps in the applicability of the MDoPI concept.

Developing a mechanism to protect and safeguard mineral deposits in Europe proved to be a challeging task due to the many divergences present through all European countries and to challenges in land-use planning. However, the MINATURA 2020 project was able to create a definition and establish different sets of criteria that can be applied by different countries to protect their mineral deposits for future use.

In the end, MINATURA 2020 was a successful project, that opened the way to the safeguard and protection of such an important commodity for our daily lives, as minerals are!

All interested persons can subscribe to the Minatura 2020 Council of Stakeholders and view a video that showcases the project’s objectives.

FORAM at the MIN-GUIDE annual conference 2017, Brussels

The MIN-GUIDE annual conference 2017 was held in Brussels, 13th and 14th of December 2017. The conference was entitled “An Innovation-Friendly Policy Framework along the Mineral Production Value Chain” and intended to provide insights into the “cornerstones and future trends of an innovation-friendly policy framework for exploration and extraction, processing, waste management, and mine closure”.

As part of the MIN-GUIDE conference’s poster section, the FORAM project was presented by LPRC member Luís Lopes. The FORAM project is creating a World Forum on Raw Materials in order to further establish the international cooperation on raw materials throughout its entire value chain. Through the poster, the FORAM project attracted a lot of attention, mainly from institutions who want to be involved as stakeholders in the development of the forum (envisaged to be ready by the end of 2018). The FORAM project aims to connect institutions and persons in its network, understand their needs, and adapt cooperation measures to solve them.

UNEXMIN and ¡VAMOS! at the “H2020 cluster event for ongoing mining projects”, Brussels

Both the UNEXMIN and ¡VAMOS! projects were presented at the first event on Horizon 2020 mining projects, entitled “H2020 cluster event for ongoing mining projects”, organized by EASME in Brussels, Belgium, on the 12th of December 2017. The event served as a catalyser to gather Horizon 2020 and FP7 projects that are performing research and innovation in the various areas of the mining sector. These include underwater exploration (the case for UNEXMIN) and underwater exploitation (the case for ¡VAMOS!), amongst many others.

The one-day event was characterised by presentations from each of the invited projects regarding objectives, approaches, and challenges – the main goal was to find synergies between the different mining projects, specially through networking. There were 6 main fields where the different projects were allocated: Intelligent Mining, Deep Sea Exploration and Mining, Sustainable Selective Low-Impact Mining, Re-opening abandoned mines in the EU, Real Time Exploration and Real Time Mining, Alternative Mining and, finally, Climate Services for Mining.

The one-day event was characterised by presentations from each of the invited projects regarding objectives, approaches, and challenges. The main goal was to find synergies between the different mining projects, specially through networking. There were 6 main fields where the different projects were allocated: Intelligent Mining, Deep Sea Exploration and Mining, Sustainable Selective Low-Impact Mining, Re-opening abandoned mines in the EU, Real Time Exploration and Real Time Mining, Alternative Mining and, finally, Climate Services for Mining.

The UNEXMIN and ¡VAMOS! projects were both part of the “Re-opening abandoned mines in the EU” session. Both projects are creating innovative solutions to explore and exploit underwater environments such as flooded underground mines and open-pit mines. With the use of the technologies, that are being developed by our projects, the re-opening of closed, abandoned mines is becoming a reality.