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.

Closing of Minatura 2020 Project

The Horizon2020 Minatura 2020 project oficially finished on the 31st of January. After three years, the project consortium was able to delineate and start discussions around a very important topic: land-use planning for geological resources with the definition of  MDoPI – Mineral Deposits of Public Importance.

The core of the work developed in Minatura 2020 was divided in 5 work packages:

WP1: Land use assessment – First, it was necessary to understand what are and what will be the sources of conflict between mining and other land uses (agriculture, hunting, etc.). This work was done based on existing methodologies and approaches at EU and national level.

WP2: Development of a harmonised mapping framework – With the data gathered from WP1 it was possible to start creating a mapping framework based on detailed qualifying conditions for classifying “mineral deposits of public importance”. The development of the mapping framework took into account appropriate existing mineral planning policies of countries considering the access to mineral deposits. This allowed for possible MDoPI areas to be mapped.

WP3: Regulatory framework – The objective of WP3 was to define the possibilities to incorporate the concept of MDoPI established previously, into the regional, national and EU levels of minerals land use planning. The idea was to explore and establish regional, national and EU-level regulatory criteria for the safeguarding of MDoPI at different levels.

WP4: Demonstration and pilot-testing of developed methodology at case-study level – In WP4 the methodology developed was tested in practical terms in some countries, such as Hungary and Slovenia, taking into account different national policy scenarios and their impacts.

WP5: Stakeholder involvement on mineral deposits of public importance – Finally, the always important involvement with different stakeholders was achieved by WP5. Here, the partners held national consultation workshops to get information and opinions from relevant stakeholders (Environmentalists, Governments) in the application of the MDoPI framework.

(Photo credit: Anita Stein)

Developing a mechanism to protect and safeguard mineral deposits in Europe proved to be a challenging 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. This is the main conclusion coming from the Minatura 2020 final meeting that was held in Brussels on the 10th of January.

To obtain more information, including project publications, please visit the Minatura 2020 website!

Closing of INTRAW Project

After three years of work, building networks, and identifying collaboration opportunities, the INTRAW project came to an end on January 31. During the first part of the project, Work Package 1 produced a contextual analysis of the selected five technologically advanced raw materials countries – Canada, Japan, USA, South Africa, and Australia. In parallel three transactional reports on the key thematic areas ‘Research and Innovation’, ‘Education and Outreach’, and ‘Industry and Trade’ were developed. Work Package 2 started off with the development of a ‘Strategic plan to international knowledge-sharing’. Based on this document, four ‘Action Plans’ were written, outlining the objective of enhancing international cooperation in the four thematic areas, which are, as mentioned above ‘Research and Innovation’, ‘Education and Outreach’, and ‘Industry and Trade’ and in addition ‘Management, recycling, and substitution of critical raw materials’. The work in this work package was finalised with a roadmap on the implementation of the action plans and a report on the crosscutting synergies between the four action plans, which was developed by LPRC. This work examined interlinkages between actions with the aim of maximizing their effect, while minimizing the cost and it identified tangible cooperation opportunities with the reference countries based on a workshop with experts and representatives of these countries. A major outcome of the project is the planning for and the launch of the INTRAW International Raw Materials Observatory accomplished in Work Package 3. The project ended with a final meeting of the consortium on La Palma!

All the deliverables and other interesting related publications can be downloaded from the INTRAW Repository on

(Photo credit: Nelson Cristo)


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.

MICA Final Consortium Meeting, Brussels

On January 23, the Horizon 2020 MICA (Mineral Intelligence Capacity Analysis) project held its final meeting in Brussels, Belgium, after two years of lifetime.

The final one-day event had the objective of recollecting all the work done throughout the many Work Packages, the current state and the plans for the future. During the day, presentations were given for each work package – in a total of 7, outlining their work, deliverables and reports, and major findings to the audience.

MICA partners present at the Final Consortium meeting

Some of the main products coming out of the MICA project are:

  • A comprehensive assessment of stakeholders and stakeholders’ needs in raw materials intelligence;
  • A collection of relevant raw materials data and the MICA metadata inventory;
  • Various methodologies (“recipes”) to answer raw materials intelligence needs;
  • A Raw Materials Intelligence (Policy) Matrix – to assess EU countries for the capacities, methods and tools employed;
  • The EU-RMICP (European Raw Materials Intelligence Capacity Platform);
  • The Raw Materials Foresight Guide.

The MICA final meeting was concluded with an endnote discussing the future of the MICA platform and the general outcomes of the project.

Presentation and discussion of the MICA platform

LPRC thanks all members of the consortium and third parties for the great work and effort put into the many stages of MICA!

The EU-RMICP will be launched soon, stay tuned!