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CHPM2030 Visioning workshop, Las Palmas

LPRC recently organised the CHPM2030 Visioning Workshop in Las Palmas. The participants were selected from both Consortium members, external research centres and companies from the geothermal and mineral sector. The workshop is part of the project’s forward looking exercise which is aiming to set the ground for subsequent implementation of the CHPM (Combined Heat Power and Metal extraction) technology in the future (2030/2050). The goal of this workshop is to create a shared vision, clear picture, description about how the technology ideally evolves by 2030/2050 and set tangible/measurable targets for it.

The workshop begun with introductory presentations (Tamas Madarasz: CHPM state-of-the-art, Tamas Miklovicz: WP6 context and Marco Konrat: Visioning methodology), to which the main exercise followed: the group discussion of given topics (eg. drilling) about requirements vs. achievability and targets that must be achieved before the CHPM technology can reach pilot level (TRL 6-7) by 2030 and full scale (TRL 8-9) by 2050. The different topics were grouped as  exploration and market, development and operation. Each contained subtopics and issues that had emerged during the Delphi survey. This was not a exhaustive list, and the participants added new issues or reformulated relevant ones during the group work. The aim of the group work was to set measurable targets at each relevant issue for 2030 and/or 2050 (eg. reduce drilling cost by 2030 within 30%). The sum of the targets is the vision for the given area.

The last session was about consensus building. For this, the team brought all group visions together (per area, per time horizon) and created a shared vision for 2030 and 2050. There is still a lot post-processing to be done, but the work will now continue with fresh ideas and new input. The CHPM 2030 and 2050 roadmaps will be based on this vision and will outline actions in order to meet the proposed targets and arrive at the desired future.

On the second day, the participants visited PLOCAN‘s oceanic research platform. The Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN) is a Research Infrastructure (RI) labeled by the ICTS (Unique Scientific and Technological Infrastructure) Spanish National Roadmap. The visit covered a boat trip to see the offshore platform, and a presentation at the onshore laboratories about the ongoing PLOCAN research and blue economy of the Canary Islands.

The work will continue with processing of the workshop results, and prepare the Vision for the Roadmapping activities in early 2019!

¡VAMOS! Open Day and Advisory Board meeting, Nenagh, Ireland

The ¡VAMOS! project is now having its second field trials where the mining technology developed by a team of European researchers and companies is being tested and constantly improved. In Ireland, the ¡VAMOS! project found the perfect place to test its equipment in an open-pit flooded mine, resulting from an abandoned mine site. Together with the Open Day, where the team showed the technology in action to a number of stakeholders, technical and advisory board meetings also happened during the 24 and 25 of October.

On the 23rd of October, the ¡VAMOS! team held a technical meeting reserved to the partners that are involved in developing the many specialised bits that compose the ¡VAMOS! technology: the mining vehicle and the Launch and Recovery Vessel are just a few examples. During this meeting partners discussed the current state of their specific components and of the technology as a whole. Discussions led into a planned line of work that will translate into further improvement of the technology even during the field trials period in Ireland – that should extend for a few more weeks.

Then on the 24th, coupled with presentations on the project, local geology and mining history of Nenagh and Ireland, the ¡VAMOS! team held an Open Day during which around 80 visitors had the chance to see the innovative mining technology in action. Visitors were divided into groups and introduced to see different parts of the technology at a time. This allowed the visitors to have a better look and understanding of the technology. The visitors gave input to the project, both on engagement and exploitation that will surely be helpful to the project.

The last day of this period, the 25th, included both an Advisory Board meeting in the morning and an Exploitation Workshop in the afternoon. During the Advisory Board meeting, the ¡VAMOS! line of work was presented to environmental and mining experts with the aim to get their opinions and advice on the development of the technology, what should still be done and how. Fruitful input from the experts was given and it will surely benefit the project development as a whole.

To this, the Exploitation workshop followed. During this, the ¡VAMOS! partners had an intensive discussion on the future of the project and how to capitalise on the project’s innovative mining technology. How, when, what and who, were some of the questions around the future that were posed and answered by the consortium.

All in all, these few days were very benefitial, not only for the project partners that had interesting discussions as well as received input from expert stakeholders, but also to the visitors – geologists, researchers, locals – that had a unique chance to see the ¡VAMOS! technology in action. Their support to the team is a good tonic for the future that is to come!

Launch of the European Raw Materials Intelligence Capacity Platform

On January 2018, the H2020 MICA (Mineral Intelligence Capacity Analysis) Project was finalized concurrently with the launch of the European Raw Materials Intelligence Capacity Platform (EU-RMICP) contributing to the European Raw Materials Knowledge Base (EU-RMKB). Knowledge is essential for ensuring a sustainable and secure global supply of raw materials, both primary and secondary, to the EU’s economy and society. Proper knowledge management promotes activities of the raw materials sector, regarding not only exploration, extraction, processing/refining and recycling, but also investments, innovation, trade, development, skills and education. Knowledge is also key for policy support, informed debate and decision-making.

During the last 2 years the project brought together 16 partners from 13 different countries plus 15 geological surveys as linked third parties (LTPs) to assess raw materials stakeholders needs, collect and build a database and assess relevant methods and tools on raw materials intelligence, to investigate raw materials intelligence options for European mineral policy development and build a web-based intelligence platform (EU-RMICP). LPRC was actively involved as task leaders in “Strategic Raw Materials Intelligence Approaches”. Check out the new platform!

LPRC participates at BIOMOre final event, Brussels

LPRC attended to BIOMOre, a H2020 funded project on an alternative mining concept, final event on last Friday, 6th of July, in Brussels. The event facilitated discussions between project partners and participants on BIOMOre’s main goal: extracting metals from deep mineralized zones in Europe by coupling solution mining and bioleaching.

The conference started with the presentation of the project by the coordinator, followed by two keynote presentations on the topic of raw materials. First, Massimo Gasparon, from the EIT Raw Materials, talked about the EU raw materials dependence, the need of these materials for the transition to the green economy, the EU Raw Materials Initiative, and the Knowledge Innovation Communities. The second presentation was by Bjorn Debecker, from the EASME, and explained how the EU is tackling the raw materials challenge, through funding project like BIOMOre. The afternoon session was based on BIOMOre-themed talks with the Work Packages leaders introducing the project in further detail: mining, bio-leaching and sustainability were amongst them.

The BIOMOre project has been working on a New Mining Concept for Extracting Metals from Deep Ore Deposits using Biotechnology. The final objective is to develop an optimized technological concept for in-situ recovering of metals from the surface, without the need of establishing an underground infrastructure. This technology, if successful, will make commodities accessible at depths greater than 1,500 m ( and temperatures around 50 – 60 ºC) which are currently not exploitable using traditional underground methods.

Watch the movie to learn more about the project concept.

LPRC at the “Building the lithium value chain in Portugal” seminar, Brussels

On the 27th of June, LPRC attended a conference based on the litium value chain. The event entitled “Building the lithium value chain in Portugal” brought together stakeholders and other interested parties in the theme, and LPRC was amongst them.

Lithium is quickly becoming a crucial element for modern society: it leads the electrification of transport and energy sectors, needed for the necessary changes towards a carbon neutral society. This was acknowledged by European responsible persons from the Portuguese and European institutions such as the DGEG and DG Grow, respectively. In order to push for a greener, more sustainable community, the EU needs to foster the entire value chain of lithium, from mineral prospection to recycling, with the circular economy concept as a goal.

Many stakeholders including exploration and processing companies, and users of lithium as a final product such as Tesla and Umicore had talks regarding lithium during this event. One of the main points arising from discussions is that lithium is a very important and strategic element for the future, and Portugal, as well as other European countries, has the potential to explore lithium resources that can make Europe lead the electrification revolution in the near future.

However, there needs to be a lot of effort to improve the current processing technologies, if Europe wants to take full advantages of its natural resources. To support this view the EU has already created groups to deal with batteries and lithium related products issues and will invest more in research and innovation in this field.

The future of lithium in Europe is bright, but there needs to be a common effort from stakeholders to make it happen coupled with a continuous look into the near future.

LPRC at the 2nd SISBRAMME event, Porto Alegre

On May 3, LPRC joined the 2nd SISBRAMME (South Brazilian Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration Symposium) held at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. This annual event is a joint effort from both the local SME (Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration) and the SEG (Society of Economic Geologists) student chapters. The 2018 edition’s theme was “Base Industries” and LPRC brought in a presentation entitled “Technological Innovations in Mining – Case Studies in Europe”, providing an overview over the portfolio of projects the company has been involved in recently and also the European context for research & innovation in the mineral raw materials sector. The event was attended by students, professors and local industry representatives.

The region of south Brazil is currently experiencing a renewed interest in mining through advanced projects (Phosphate and Zinc), prospect of new ones (Nickel and Gold), deep-sea mining and socio-political debates over environmental impacts and the future of local coal mining. Our Foresight expert and representative Marco Konrat Martins underlined the importance of Foresight as a powerful tool to help researchers, policy-makers and industry to deal with the diversity of expectations and the uncertainties stemming from mineral resources exploitation.

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.

¡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!

¡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.

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.

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