UNEXMIN meeting, La Palma

La Palma Research Centre recently had the pleasure to receive the UNEXMIN partners in the island of La Palma, in the Canary Islands, Spain. The meeting that brought together partners to discuss the actual state of UNEXMIN and the future of the project was held on the 10 and 11th of January.

The development of the multi-robotic platform was also discussed and a schedule for the production and assembly of the two other robots was defined. This is an important step in order to guarantee that the UNEXMIN team will have the robots ready in time for the field trials.

The first day started with discussions among the partners about the current state of the trials. Both the data analysis from the previous tests (Idrija and Kaatiala) as well as the two next ones (Urgeiriça and Ecton) were discussed. This last point was of particular importance since the team will have two and three robots in Urgeiriça and Ecton, respectively, which will make the trials ever more complex. Therefore, proper planning is crucial and that was one of the reasons why this meeting was held now. The Urgeiriça trial is planned for March/April, while UNEXMIN will go to Ecton in May.

The other major point of the meeting – on the second day – was the discussion of the short, medium and long-term future of the UNEXMIN technology. Discussions focussed on how to better serve the market with this innovative technology that will result in the exploration and 3D mapping of underground flooded mines and other underwater environments.

Also, on the second day, as an interactive exercise, the partners worked together on a mindmapping exercise that was organised by LPRC. The results from this mindmap as well as from other foresight tools will be input for the research roadmap of the UNEXMIN technology.

This was a successful meeting where all the partners contributed with their views and knowledge and from where a bright future for UNEXMIN could be created!

From LPRC, it was a pleasure to host this meeting and we hope to see our UNEXMIN partners there in a future opportunity.

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!

FORAM final and review meeting, Brussels

On the 29th of October, LPRC was present at the last meeting of the FORAM project, that officialy ended two days later, on the 31st. This meeting coincided with the review meeting by the EC and both were held together. FORAM fostered international cooperation on raw materials while gathering support from stakeholders from all over the world.

The one-day event consisted in the presentation of the 6 Work Packages’ line of work, results and future. Among others, major focus was put on the roadmap work package, the one that will dictate further exploitation of the projects results, conducting in the establishment of a World Forum on Raw Materials in a near future. All project partners strongly support and offered their help for further exploitation of the results, in line with what have been delined by the FORAM roadmap.

The project review went very well, with Jonas Hedberg, FORAM’s project officer, stating that the project has achieved what it proposed in the beginning in a timely fashion. The PO is now eager to see the exploitation of the results in the short to long-term, and which would see FORAM turning into a sustainable EC-funded project. Again, the creation of a World Forum on Raw Materials would strongly show this.

All good things come to an end, and so did the FORAM project. However, this is the perfect opportunity for a new beginning, instead of a goodbye!

¡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!

MacaroNight – Researchers Night of the Macaronesia

On the 28th of September 2018 the Macaronesia, represented by the islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Madeira and São Miguel, experienced a tsunami of researchers taking the streets and showing the islands that they, too, have a scientific identity, that their place of birth is full of richness to be discovered and that science has played a fundamental role in their history, from conquest times to today.

Leading this invasion of science is La Palma Research Centre as coordinator, with a consortium including Universidad de La Laguna, Fundo Regional para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Fundación Canaria del Parque Científico Técnico de Las Palmas, Universidade da Madeira and Instituto Astrofísico de Canarias. For 2019 the Universidade do Mindelo, from Cape Verde, will join for an even bigger event.

MacaroNight is a Marie Curie Researcher’s Night two-year project, aiming to dispel stereotypes about researchers and raise awareness to the importance of science in the Macaronesia. A final objective is to encourage the next generation of Macaronesian researchers to take up a career in STEM – Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. Also, the project has been awarded the European Year of Cultural Heritage stamp, thanks to its numerous activities highlighting the Macaronesian common heritage.

In order to reach the goals of the project the consortium puts together a series of events including demonstrations, hands-on experiments, tours and other interactive activities designed with and for the public to submerge the attendants in the world of research.

Don’t forget to come and see us on the 27th of September 2019!

INTERMIN questionnaire

Since February of this year, LPRC is part of the INTERMIN-Project which is funded by the European Union’s H2020 scheme. The 36-month Project aiming at the creation of a self-sustainable long-term lasting international network of training centres for the raw materials sector.

One significant part of this project is to make an inventory of all the post-graduate training programmes in the field of raw-materials engineering that are available (not just in the EU but worldwide). In order to facilitate this task our colleagues have prepared the enclosed survey. Based on this survey and a thorough assessment of the future technological development and prospective shortages of specific skills we want to identify possible gaps and build on this, preparing the community (not just the partners of the project-consortium) for the future.

We are all very thankful if you could spend a few minutes of your time helping us. If there are any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Philipp Hartlieb from Montanuniversitaet Leoben (Philipp.hartlieb@unileoben.ac.at), who compiled the survey.

Please find the survey in the following link: INTERMIN questionnaire. 

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer this questionnaire. It will take approx. 10-15 minutes.

The INTERMIN Consortium

Info Day Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 5

LPRC was present at the most recent Horizon 2020 information day, where the opportunities and challenges for the future of Societal Challenge 5 (Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials) and its 2019 funding calls were discussed.

The event had place in the Charlemagne building of the European Commission during the 11th and 12th of September, in Brussels. It counted with the presence of a wide range of stakeholders from the research, education, business and industry spectrums that wanted to learn more about the future of the Horizon 2020 programme and new opportunities, to network and together help EU’s future regarding environment, climate and resource sufficiency through meaningful partnerships.

LPRC members participated in sessions related to raw materials, proposal preparation and evaluation and on how to make economic impact out of innovation actions. Thanks to these, LPRC’s background on Horizon 2020 projects’ preparation, development and exploitation has been improved. Networking periords allowed the team to discuss relevant topics with an international audience.

LPRC is open and actively searching for cooperation opportunities in Europe and beyond to help to shape the future for better with its range of capabilities.

All presentations and recorded sessions from the information day are available from the EASME website.

CHPM2030 Consortium and Advisory Board meeting, Iceland

Iceland is a result of 16 million years* of geological work, undertaken by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (divergent oceanic plate boundary) and a mantle plume (active hotspot). The two forces induce continuous basaltic volcanism, while building the mass of the island. The area is still very active with volcanic eruptions, excellent geothermal fields and breathtaking views. Iceland is a true geological paradise. The LPRC staff had the chance to visit some of the Icelandic scenery gems, including Kerid crater lake, Dyrhólaey arch, Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and the Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss and Gullfoss waterfalls (see gallery below), before the meeting started.

The first two days of the Consortium meeting were dedicated to the follow-up of the project work at WP and subtask level. The subtask leaders presented their progress since the Lanzarote Consortium meeting  until this point in time, and therefore the partners could discuss uncertain matters. Slightly more time was dedicated to WP6 Roadmapping and Preparation for Pilots (led by LPRC) and then to WP4 System Integration (led by ISOR). Both WPs have recently started and required leading input from the consortium partners. The WP4 presentation was followed by the session on Harmonization of technological elements, which is the most critical issue at the moment in the project. The second day finished with the preparation of the Advisory Board meeting, held on the following day, where the partners reviewed the challenges and topics where they are expecting input from the external Experts.

During the Advisory Board meeting, the WP leaders presented the state of the art of their work. Partners focused on the technological challenges they are facing and formulated questions towards the AB members. Each WP introduction – 5 in total – was followed by ~30 min discussion between the partners and the AB members. Some of the issues that came up during discussions included upscaling of the CHPM technology, harmonizing technological elements, and EGS (Enhanced Geothermal System) technological difficulties.

On the last day, the project partners and Advisory Board members visited the geothermally active Reykjanes Peninsula, SW from Reykjavík. This geothermal field is located in the junction of the divergent plate boundary and local tectonic fissures. The produced hot geothermal steam,  groundwater and seawater are used not only for direct heating, generating electricity, but also for molecular farming (algae cultivation), blue lagoon (spa, clinic, and R&D), fish farming and drying, and methanol production from CO2. The CHPM2030 team also visited the HS ORKA HQ, Reykjanes power plant, Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP-2) drill site, the algae farming facility, and some other geothermal surface manifestations in the peninsula.

Work Package 6 partners will meet again soon in Brussels, at the GeoHub facilitites for a workshop on “harmonization of study area evaluation and 3D modelling”!

*Catalogue of the Active Volcanoes of the World, Vol. 24 Iceland.

(Photos: Tamas Miklovicz, LPRC)


CHPM2030 Romania fieldtrip

The CHPM2030 project participants visited the second study area in WP6 Roadmapping and Preparation for Pilots: Beius Basin, Romania. The field trip was organised by Diana Persa and Stefan Marincea from the Geological Institute of Romania.

In WP6, LPRC is deploying its foresight background for both the short-term and long-term planning of the CHPM (Combined Heat Power and Metal extraction) technology, with the involvement of the Partners and Advisory Board members. The short-term planning, by 2030, includes the study of 4 areas in the UK, Romania, Sweden and Portugal, with the help of the representing national geological surveys: British Geological Survey, Geological Institute of Romania, Swedish Geological Survey, Portuguese Geological Survey. The CHPM team recently visited the South-West England study site (read more at CHPM2030 Cornwall Fieldtrip), and now the focus was on the Romanian banatitic magmatic and metallogenic belt.

The participants first visited the town hall of Beius, located on the Northwest of Romania, where the local geothermal district heating system was explained. Some parts of the instrumentation were later visited by team. The field program included visits to several skarn related exposures of the banatitic magmatism, including Budureasa (Valea Mare, quarry with brucite bearing granodiorite-dolomite contact), Pietroasa (Dealul Gruiului, adit for exploiting magnesian borate bearing altered dolomite) and Baita (marble quarry, calcic skarns with base metal sulphides) in the Bihor Mts. and at Cazanesti (Cerboaia Valley, gehlenite bearing high temperature contact zone) in the Magureaua Vatei area. These skarns are especially interesting, as these are expected to be present 3-5 km depth at the host rock and magmatic intrusion contact zones. Since many of the surface exposure skarns were mineralised, it is expected to see similar processes at depth, being a special interest area for simultaneous geothermal energy and mineral extraction, the aim of the CHPM technology.

Besides the field exposures, the participants had the opportunity to visit the Turda salt mine, the Bears’ Cave at Chiscau and the Gold Museum in Brad. The study areas representative geological surveys will meet in October in Brussels, at GeoHub, to further advance discussions on the first pilots, to be developed by 2030.