¡VAMOS! at the Mines and Technology conference, London

The Mines and Technology conference, together with the Mines and Money symposium, took place from the 27th to the 30th of November in the Business Design Centre in London. The conference addressed the most critical areas within the technology revolution that is happening in the mining sector. Senior decision makers from mining companies and technology providers alike shared their vision and innovation strategies and discussed the latest technological developments in the sector.

During the morning plenary and afternoon parallel sessions, a range of topics, from automation and enhanced drilling systems to data analytics and mobile technologies, were presented alongside with their respective safety, environmental and cost benefits.

From LPRC, Edine Bakker gave a presentation on the newly developed ¡VAMOS! mining technology and its potential benefits, which was received with much interest and enthusiasm by the audience. The overwhelmingly positive feedback on the presentation illustrates a general consensus on the positive impacts that the project might have once it is finished, as developments and testing in real life conditions are still ongoing.

Edine Bakker presenting the ¡VAMOS! project during the Mines and Technology conference

It is now up to the ¡VAMOS! project partners to define their future strategy to advance the technology to the next level.

INTRAW workshop with the Experts, Brussels

The INTRAW workshop with the Joint Panel of Experts (JPE) took place on the 8th of November in Brussels, associated to the Raw Materials Week 2017. The workshop was held in the very same room as the first Solvay Conference, in 1911, which had the presence of scientist like Einstein, Planck, Rutherford and Skłodowska-Curie, among others. High workshop prospects were to be expected with such history!

Solvay Conference, 1911

The INTRAW project is dedicated to foster cooperation between the EU and technologically advanced countries, or the so-called Reference Countries. This meeting was not an exception in pursuing such objective. The workshop was organized as part of the 2nd European Raw Materials Week, and the bulk of the LPRC team was present in the Brussels event. The aim of the LPRC-led workshop was to work out tangible cooperation opportunities between the EU and the five Reference Countries (Australia, Canada, South Africa, Japan and USA). The results can be translated as input to our ongoing deliverable: a report on cross-cutting synergies, emerging scenarios and their potential impact on international cooperation on raw materials.

The workshop started with an overview of the INTRAW project led by the coordinator, Vitor Correia, and after, our colleague Marco Martins introduced the workshop exercise. Within the workshop, the participants were divided into five groups, one for each of the Reference Countries, moderated by the country representative from the consortium and co-moderated by the LPRC members. The main driver for this exercise was to discuss a predefined list of factors, and plotting them on a chart (strength-weakness) considering both a specific Reference Country and the EU, as a basis for bilateral and/or multilateral cooperation opportunities in the field of mineral raw materials. In the end, the individual group results were introduced to the whole in a plenary session and discussed by all the participants. As a result of this interactive exercise, the groups identified the top 3 cooperation opportunities, on a bilateral and even multilateral basis between the EU and specific reference countries. The LPRC team is currently working on the results of this very fruitful workshop.

During the afternoon, the workshop participants stayed for a round table discussion, coorganised by the INTRAW and FORAM projects. The panelists, representatives from the EU, China, Japan and Canada, discussed the challenges on international cooperation on mineral raw materials.

All in all, it was a very fruitful workshop: our team is very proud of all the work!

LPRC at the Raw Materials Week 2017, Brussels

The second European Raw Materials Week was held in Brussels from the 6th to the 10th of November. This is a recent event, that intends to get together projects, parterns and personel related to the all the areas of raw materials to discuss on the most pressuring topics for the sector. As a team actively dealing with raw materials projects, LPRC was present during this very important forum.

Raw Materials Week 2017

The LPRC members have been present in many events during this week and those include: 1) the INTRAW project consortiun meeting, 2) the EU advanced mining country raw materials diplomacy dialogue conference, 3) the INTRAW Experts Workshop – which was organised by the LPRC team, 4) the Reconciling biodiversity protection and extractive activities conference, 5) the The EU Raw Materials Knowledge Base in support of EU raw materials policy, 6) the Prospecting secondary raw materials in the urban mine and mining wastes (ProSUM) conference and, finally, 7) the MINATURA2020 final conference.

During the week, a poster session was also occurring. There were 6 project posters where LPRC is an partner: UNEXMIN, ¡VAMOS!, CHPM2030, INTRAW, MINATURA 2020 and MICA. These projects that focus on exploration, exploitation and raw materials databases attracted a lot of attention to the Raw Materials Week participants – they fitted perfectly into the thematic.

Preparation of the RMW poster session with the UNEXMIN, INTRAW, MINATURA 2020, ¡VAMOS, CHPM2030 and MICA projects

Being present at this high-level conferences and workshops allowed the LPRC members to gain valuable insight on the issues, challenges and solutions that are linked to the raw materials sector, while also participating in the many discussions held in the many conferences.

We hope to participate again next year!

¡VAMOS! technology demonstration, Devon, UK

On the 24th of October the ¡VAMOS! consortium, Advisory Board members, and interested external parties were invited for a live demonstration of the ¡VAMOS! technology at the Imerys Minerals Ltd. test site in Lee Moor, Devon, UK. The 29 visitors were divided up in small groups and guided around the premises by representatives of project partners SMD Ltd., Damen Dredging Equipment and INESC TEC, who have been working on the various project components. Visitors were provided with PPE and safety instructions before they were taken by boat to the Launch and Recovery Vessel, where they could inspect the Mining Vehicle and witnessed the deployment and recovery of the vehicle. Back on shore, the visitors were given an overview of the functionality of ‘EVA’ – the Exploration VAMOS AUV, an automated underwater vehicle that is being used to assist in precise positioning, navigation and situational awareness of the Mining Vehicle and that can execute preliminary surveys of underwater mine sites.

¡VAMOS! machinery ready for the first test in real life

In the Control Unit and Data Centre, the visitors were shown the impressive virtual reality HMI, where all machinery is controlled and where real-time data on the operations is collected. Real-time data for grade control and mineralogical properties is collected by a LIBS – Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer, which was demonstrated and is being perfected for a wide range of commonly mined minerals.

During the day, ¡VAMOS! demonstrated a highly successful integration of different systems to be applied in underwater mining. The project team was optimistic about continuing the testing until the end of the week to advance even further towards the projects targets.

¡VAMOS! consortium, Advisory Board members and external visitors for the technology demonstration at Devon, UK

This was supported by the Advisory Board: “The consortium should be extremely proud of their efforts. What they have managed to achieve with the ¡VAMOS! System and its integration of new technologies is very impressive”, said Dr. Bramley Murton from UK’s National Oceanography Centre.

On the 31st of October the ¡VAMOS! Project was reviewed by European Commission representatives and an external reviewer. For LPRC, Edine Bakker presented the progress in Work Packages 1 and 6. The reviewers were positive about and impressed by the projects achievements so far and the projects’ management team is optimistic about entering the final stage of the project.

The next test will happen next year in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the whole ¡VAMOS! technology will be once again tested in real environment!

UNEXMIN & ¡vamos! at the Real-Time Mining Conference, Amsterdam

During the 10th and 11th of October, both the UNEXMIN and ¡vamos! projects were present at the Real-Time Mining Conference, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The two projects offering research and innovation action solutions, had members from the consortia presenting talks to the audience regarding an overview of the work developed and present and future steps.

Real-Time Mining Conference kick-off

The Real-Time Mining conference brought together researchers from 4 EU-funded projects: SOLSA, Real-Time Mining, ¡vamos!, and UNEXMIN and external interested parties such as other project and industry participants. The main goal was to show what each project is working on and the different solutions to overcome the difficulties. The exchange of ideas and rising of synergies between different activities become a welcome reality after each presentation.

The conference kickstarted with the overview presentations of the four above mentioned Horizon2020 projects. From LPRC’s side, two members of the UNEXMIN and ¡vamos! consortia were present at the Real-Time Mining conference – they gave the overview of these respective projects.

¡vamos! and UNEXMIN received a lot of attention with their talks, which was reflected in the great amount of questions and further discussions, even during the breaks. The next sessions for the first and second days were dedicated to more specific talks regarding positioning and material tracking, automated material characterization, resource modelling and value of information, process optimization and, data management.

The Real-Time Mining conference was very successful in all aspects. For LPRC, it meant communicating the projects, raising awareness of the future technologies, finding new ideas and making valuable contacts for the future.

UNEXMIN La Palma Workshop

On the 3rd and 4th of October, 2017, the UNEXMIN consortium got together in the island of La Palma, Spain, to discuss some very important aspects of the project. Among these there were discussions on the current development of the project, the near future steps and the way to go when the time to exploit the results come – making the novel UNEXMIN technology available to the market.

The first day started with the always necessary discussions related to the developments of the project: past, present and future were all analysed. After this groundwork, the consortium started a debate to make a plan on how to explore the UNEXMIN technology to the market once the project is over.

LPRC members giving a warm welcome to the workshop participants

The discussions around the future exploitation of the UNEXMIN project and its results extended to the second day of the meeting. To finalise this fruitful workshop, an early exploitation plan and course of action were successfully defined. This action will ensure the everyone is working towards the same objectives.

The discussions were partly held under a nice environment

The LPRC team, host of this UNEXMIN meeting in La Palma, actively participated in all the discussions giving some very useful input for the definition of the exploitation plan.

The consortium partners, who loved “La Isla Bonita”, as La Palma is known, will get back together in Bled, Slovenia, for a consortium meeting.

The UNEXMIN partners present in La Palma

See you all there!

CHPM2030 Brussels meeting

The combined CHPM Advisory Board, review and internal progress meetings took place between 11-14 of September, in Brussels. The objectives of the meeting were to receive feedback from the Advisory Board, complete the first review meeting with the Project Officer, catch-up on WP2, WP3 and WP7 work progress, and to prepare for the upcoming work packages that will soon start (WP5 and WP6). The Advisory Board (AB) of the project consists of a group of nine experts in the fields of geothermal, minerals and economics, from all over the world. The experts are annually advising on the project progress, now for the second time (see last AB meeting in Sweden).

The meeting started with a half-day internal preparation for the AB and review meetings with a quick wrap-up on the work-in-progress on Monday afternoon. The second day was fully dedicated to discussons with the AB members. In the morning the completed (WP1: Methodology framework definition) and the ongoing (WP2: Laboratory experiments and orebody investigations, WP3: Metal recovery and electrochemical power generation) work packages were presented and discussed, at their most current state. During the second half of the day, the AB members were answering pre-identified questions from the consortium related to all work packages.

On the third day, CHPM2030 project had its first review meeting with the project officer, Susanna Galloni. The coordinator, Tamás Madarász, gave an overall outlook on the CHPM2030 project, this was followed by the work package leaders presenting WP1, WP2 and WP3 (see above). All major milestones have been accomplished thus the project is ready to move into the next stage.

During the afternoon, the meeting continued with preparation and planning for the upcoming activities. Specifically, LPRC is responsible for WP6: Roadmapping and preparation for pilots. This work package is going to start in December, later this year, where the overall objective is to bring the first pilot/commercial implementation of the CHPM scheme forward in time. Breaking down this objective, WP6 will focus on three overarching tasks: map convergent technology areas, set a background for pilot implementation and develop research roadmaps (for years 2030 and 2050). Tamas Miklovicz, from LPRC, presented the future of this WP during the last session of the meeting, with the draft time schedule for implementation.

On the last day, the partners were invited to visit the state-of-the-art laboratories of VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), where many of the WP3 experiments are ongoing. Partners Joost Helsen and Xochitil Dominguez, from the home institution, showed the instrumentation and explained all the science/engineering behind it.

Look around in the visitor centre of VITO geothermal project:

The next CHPM2030 meeting is going to be organised by us in the spring of 2018!

KINDRA Steering Committee Meeting & World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden

The most recent KINDRA meeting, that took place in Stockholm on the 29th of August, was dedicated in particular to discuss the progress and the first results of WP3 – Trend & Gap Analysis, to evaluate the functionalities of the advanced search options of the European Inventory of Groundwater Research (EIGR) for aforesaid analyses, to review the status of country reports, all while agreeing on the planning for the forthcoming months and discuss the long-term future (maintenance and update) of the project inventory (EIGR) – a very important outcome of the KINDRA project.

KINDRA Steering Committee discussion on the future of its groundwater inventory (EIGR)

Consortium members discussing the first results of WP3 – Trend & Gap Analysis

LPRC’s team presented the state-of-the-art of the communication & dissemination activities related to the project and highlighted the steps to be taken to improve (a final boost) the project during the last semester. As part of the ongoing dissemination efforts, project partners were present in the World Water Week in a booth jointly hosted by FREEWAT H2020 project throughout the week (29th-31st of August).

FREEWAT & KINDRA booth at the World Water Week, Stockholm

You can meet KINDRA at the end of September at the EIP Water Conference organised in Porto and/or at the 44th Annual Congress of IAH to be held in Dubrovnik.

 

FEMP annual reunion in Sopron, Hungary

The Federation of European Mineral Programs (FEMP) annual reunion took place in Sopron, Hungary, organized by the University of Miskolc. FEMP organizes and co-ordinates the European Mining, Minerals a nd Environmental Program (EMMEP) for students in Resource Engineering, Mining and Geotechnical Engineering, Mineral Processing, Recycling and related academic studies. Tamás Miklovicz, as a former student of the European Geotechnical Environmental Course (EGEC), organized by FEMP, participated in the event. Every year a reunion is organized to gather former students, academics and industry rep resentatives for an informal weekend with networking and interesting events

The reunion kicked-off with a guided city tour and welcome reception on Thursday, 31st of August. Next day, after the FEMP industrial members business meeting, the reunion was opened by the organiser, Ferenc Mádai. The morning session included a workshop, discussion about the Minatura2020 project, which was introduced by Zoltán Horváth. Before the workshop, Tamás Miklovicz had a one-slide addition, providing an outlook on Horizon 2020 opportunities and its best examples, including UNEXMIN, INTRAW and CHPM2030 projects.

During the workshop, the participants were divided into three groups, based on the factors that define Mineral Deposits of Public Importance (MDoPI): Level of Geological Knowledge, moderated by Zoltán Horváth, Environmental and Social aspects, moderated by Tamas and Economic considerations, moderated by Ákos Csicsek. Such factors are Background Geological Information & Knowledge – known or unknown mining/quarrying districts, Impact of Past Exploitation Activities in a Specific Tract, Social Acceptance, Compatibility With Other Land Uses, Contribution of an Active Operation to the Added-Value Chain of Mineral Products, etc. The participants realised that these factors are rather complex and many of them can have a positive or negative effect on future mining activity. The participants explained some of their experience at mines they were working. As a conclusion, there are many good examples where mining operation, surface or underground, is very welcome by the local community, however generally speaking, there are a lot of work needs to be done to harmonize mining operation with other land uses.

In the afternoon session, the best master thesis have been presented from the just graduated students. One of the highlight is the Development of a comprehensive system Model for a Magnetic Density Separation Process Line from Wokke Wijdeveld, which dealt with a novel type of separation technique, using water based magnetic ferrofluid, mixed with grains of different density. The mixture is put into an electromagnetic field that creates a vertical density gradient, which separates the particles, based on their type (density), so it can be divided into its base products.

During the whole event, a poster section was open with UNEXMIN, KINDRA, CHPM and INTRAW posters, allowing the participants to get familiar with these interesting projects.

The reunion closed with a very relaxed bike tour and BBQ. But EIT Raw Materials certified courses continue, highly recommended for any student interested in the mineral raw material sector.

Next year see you in Delft!

Hydrogeological side note

The Canary Islands host many natural phenomena. One of them is a significant part of the hydrogeological system which provides drinking water for the islands’ inhabitants and irrigation for the land. The annual precipitation in La Palma can vary between 300 and 1400 mm (MC Cabrera) depending on the altitude. However, a significant source of groundwater comes from “horizontal rain,” a process which involves Canary pine trees (Pinus canariensis), low altitude clouds, porous tuff and impermeable dykes. When humid air from the ocean moves over the volcanic mountains of La Palma, it is forced to ascend to a higher altitude by the topography of the island. As it cools and its pressure decreases, at a certain height water precipitates and cloud is formed. Since the air is ascending along the mountain, the clouds are often formed at ground level and flow though the Canary pine tree forests as they continue to rise. The type of pine tree endemic to the island typically has needles as long as 15 cm long. Water droplets are captured on these needles from the rising clouds, fall onto the ground and enter to the subsurface. A volcanic island, La Palma is not lacking in layers of porous tuff and igneous dykes. Water can easily flow through these tuff layers and collect in reservoirs, which are then trapped and sealed by impermeable dykes. These water bodies can be accessed and drained by horizontal tunnels, or water mines, as the locals call them.

It is also interesting that Canary pine trees have a thick bark, saturated with resin, both characteristics that help them to survive forest fires and regrow.

360 degree view under a Canary pine tree (drag and move the photo to look around).