¡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.

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.

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.

¡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.

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.

La Palma Research Centre presents multiple projects at EGU 2017

The 2017 European Geoscience Union’s (EGU) General Assembly took place in Vienna at the Austria Centre from Monday the 24th to Friday the 28th of April. At this large geoscientific gathering, at which over 12,000 participants from academia and industry attended, La Palma Research Centre colleagues took the opportunity to exhibit and present six research and innovation projects.

On the first day of the conference, Cameron Sword opened the Energy, Resources and Environment session with an oral presentation on the European Commission’s Horizon2020 co-funded ¡VAMOS! (Viable Alternative Mine Operating System) project. During the 15 minute presentation,  Cameron explained the overall concept and technological components of ¡VAMOS!, its vision for a future of cost-efficient low-impact European mine excavation, and the results of the project to date. After the presentation, multiple questions from the audience were answered, whilst a stimulating debate ensued on the functionality of the system components.

Cameron Sword narrates an interactive video showing the operation of ¡VAMOS!

Immediately following the ¡VAMOS! presentation, Luís Lopes gave a detailed and highly technical presentation on UNEXMIN (Underwater Explorer for Flooded Mines) – a related EC H2020 project in which mining and robotics scientists are collaborating to create a world-first autonomous underwater mapping robot for use in flooded mines. Luís’ UNEXMIN presentation was highlighted as a ‘significant interest’ topic for the EGU 2017 conference, being selected as one of the most interesting to attend during the week-long conference.

Luís Lopes delves into the details of UNEXMIN during his presentation at the ERE1.1 session

Then, following an engaging presentation on the INTRAW (International Observatory for Raw Materials) project by Chris Keane from the American Geosciences Institute, LPRC’s colleague, Marco Martins gave an insightful talk on foresight methodology and raw materials case studies. Marco’s presentation focussed on work done during the ongoing MICA (Mineral Intelligence Capacity Analysis) project, including a review of data and stakeholders needs in the field of raw materials.

Marco Martins outlines the nature of the foresight case-study data used during the MICA project

As a bonus presentation during the morning ERE session, Tamás Miklovicz gave an ad hoc talk on the new H2020 CHPM2030 (Combined Heat, Power and Metal extraction) project. Concluding with an intriguing and extensive discussion from an engaged and interested audience, Tamás proceeded to hold an open poster session on Thursday afternoon on this innovative combined geothermal energy/mineral-extraction project.

Tamás Miklovicz comfortably explains CHPM to just one of many similar interested onlookers in the main hall at the Austria Centre during EGU2017

Also presented in the main hall on Thursday were the KINDRA (Knowledge Inventory for Hydrogeology Research) and La Noche de los Volcanes projects. Cseko Adrienn explained the purpose and details of the KINDRA project and the recent opening of its signature EIGR (European Inventory on Groundwater Research), whilst Ariadna Ortega took charge of La Noche de los Volcanes by explaining the statistical results and main outcomes of this four-year geoscience outreach project which was comprised of three separate sub-projects at various locations across the seven Canary Islands.

The KINDRA poster explaining the newly launched European Inventory on Groundwater Research

In short, the EGU General Assembly was a successful week of company and project dissemination and promotion, and LPRC looks forward to attending the conference again next year in Austria!

Annual ¡VAMOS! Partners’ Forum meeting held in Porto

LPRC colleagues Cameron, Edine and Luís attended a recent ¡VAMOS! meeting held at project robotics-developer INESC’s Porto facilities on the 29th and 30th of March. The purpose of the meeting was to hold the annual Partners’ Forum (PF) meeting, which was supplemented with an Advisory Board (AB) review meeting.

On the first day of the meeting, attendees divided themselves amongst two separate workshops to discuss progress on Work Packages 1 & 6, Dissemination, and Market Uptake, and Work Packages 3 & 4, System Construction, and Navigation and Awareness.

In the afternoon, both groups reconvened to attend a meeting on Work Package 5, Field Testing. During this session, the schedule and management of field-tests, site calibration and local assembly of components, and the training of personnel and site-safety were discussed and agreed upon. This careful and detailed planning is to ensure that the field tests in Devon, UK (October 2017) and in Vares, Bosnia (June 2018) will be conducted without avoidable setbacks or injury to staff.

¡VAMOS! partners attend the WP5 Field Testing workshop

The current build-status of the ¡VAMOS! mining vehicle at SMD in Newcastle.

In the morning of the second day, external Advisory Board members joined the consortium to conduct an iterative review of all project work packages 1 to 7. LPRC colleagues Edine and Cameron presented Work Package 1 and Work Package 6. After this full project review, a summary and review of project risks was conducted by Mr Jeroen van der Linden of Damen Dredging.

In the afternoon the partners toured the INESC robotics lab, where INESC partners are developing many subsea robotics technologies for ¡VAMOS! and other European projects. After this informative visit, the Advisory Board and Work Package leaders met for the final event of the two-day workshop: the Advisory Board review session. During this session, the Advisory Board put forth their critiques of various aspects of the project, and provided their insight into the technology and the developments per work package.

L-R: Cameron Sword (LPRC), Eduardo Silva (INESC), Bramley Murton (AB), Edine Bakker (LPRC), Glen Jones (AB).

Foreground (L-R): Mike Buxton (AB), Stef Kapusniak (Technical Manager), Jeroen van der Linden (Risk Manager).

The ¡VAMOS! project is now entering the final stages of the construction of all technical equipment. The consortium is on schedule in all project matters, and is looking forward to the first field tests in Southwest England this October.




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