UNEXUP e-meeting – WP0 & WP1 workshop

On March 24th-26th, the LPRC team participated in an UNEXUP three-day consortium e-meeting, which was held via teleconferencing due to the quarantine measures of the current COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. In this opportunity, partners responsible for the commercialization strategy and technological developments presented the current progress and the work plan for the next months, followed by discussions and questions raised by the whole consortium.

In the technological scope, the presentations were about the upscaling of the current UX-1 robotic platform – built during the UNEXMIN project, as well as the future development of an additional robot that will be added to the platform, which will be able to accomplish even more challenging missions, with improved hardware, software and overall capabilities.

UNEXMIN GeoRobotics Ltd. and LPRC made presentations for the commercialization / business plan section of the e-meeting. The LPRC presentation covered the Go-To-Market strategy, mentioning the PDAC 2020 findings, where LPRC was present to make a brief market assessment by dialoguing with UNEXUP’s potential clients in order to understand their expectations and needs from the service. This input is valuable to provide the necessary tools to develop a solid business plan for the UNEXUP exploration/ mine mapping service.

LPRC is the leader of the communication and dissemination Work Package (WP4) in UNEXUP, also taking part in the Go-To-Market strategy (WP0), by contributing with customers’ relations and analysis.

CROWDTHERMAL e-meeting

Last week, on the 17 and 18 March, the CROWDTHERMAL partners held their second consortium meeting online due to the events of COVID-19 – the meeting was previously scheduled to be hosted in the Canary Islands. Due to the circumstances the consortium had to adapt and work around the impossibility of a face-to-face meeting.

This CROWDTHERMAL workshop led to outstanding preliminary results particularly for Work Packages 1, 2 and 3, which are currently running.  Work Package 1 focuses on studying the bottlenecks linked to geothermal energy. For that matter, IZES presented its preliminary results including D1.1 “International Review of Public perception studies”. Among the bottlenecks identified were: 1) trust in the technology and 2) perception of risks and legislative background. These results will later on feed into the Social License to Operate (SLO) which is at the centre of the CROWDTHERMAL project. A Social License to Operate refers to the ongoing acceptance of a company or industry’s standard business practices and operating procedures by its employees, stakeholders, and the general public.

Work Package 2 delivered an overview of the best practices in Europe regarding geothermal which will be a crucial document for any upcoming geothermal project mixing geothermal energy and crowdfunding. Work Package 3 unveiled its report on mitigation risks linked to geothermal energy. As pointed out by Work Package 1, risk mitigation is an important step to build trust in the technology and thus having an effective Social License to operate. The results of the questionnaire help to understand and to deal with risk mitigation for all case studies of CROWDTHERMAL (Spain, Iceland and Hungary). In addition, WP3 created a cluster of geothermal stakeholders in order to discuss an analysis for geothermal risk mitigation in the context of alternative financing schemes. The cluster identified a glaring lack of a pan-European exploration risk mitigation scheme.

As for WP4, which La Palma Research Centre leads, the team kickstarted the organisation of a social media powered platform that will support the deployment of integrated development schemes for geothermal energy utilising alternative finance and community engagement tools. Thanks to the synergic approach of the consortium, this platform will be launched in due time early 2021.

Stay tuned for more news regarding the CROWDTHERMAL project!

LPRC at PDAC 2020

LPRC member Luís Lopes was present at the most recent PDAC convention, held every year in Toronto, Canada. Luís represented the UNEXUP project, where LPRC, besides leading and doing major work for dissemination and communication, is involved in market research and customer involvement. It was to this last topic that the representation at PDAC 2020 was dedicated.

From the 1st to 4th of March, LPRC introduced and discussed the project development prospects, its line of work and uniqueness to a list of stakeholders that included governments, public authorities and private companies, such as mining companies and technology developers. The aim was to raise commercial awareness in the technology and understand how the possible future customers see the market value and prospects of the UNEXUP technology. Market research is a big part of UNEXUP and will be considered throughout the project.

LPRC’s work at PDAC will now be processed and the results will feed into the UNEXUP project’s Work Package dedicated to market uptake.

ENGIE Kick-off, Miskolc

The ENGIE Consortium met for the kick-off of the EIT Raw Materials funded project hosted by the coordinator, the University of Miskolc. In representation of LPRC, Ariadna Ortega and Adrienn Cseko presented the tasks to be performed during the next two years. ENGIE will work to better integrate women in the STEM related sciences.

During the first day, the coordinators presented their vision of the project and the partners introduced their respective Work Packages, including Work Package 3 “Impact assessment and monitoring” which is led by LPRC and was presented by Adrienn Cseko. The last session of the day focused on the work to combine the Work Packages efforts and how to be more effective in the task distribution and communication among partners.

Then on the second day the detailed planning for Year 1 was discussed and agreed by the consortium, where Ariadna Ortega presented the task LPRC is responsible for, “Researchers Night- Geoscience Theme”, in which an activity performed by EFG’s Linked Third Parties throughout Europe is to be organized during the European Researchers Night. Said activity will focus on the role of women in geosciences.

The ENGIE project is funded by the EIT Raw Materials programme and aims to turn the interest of girls to study geosciences and geo-engineering, and thus to improve the gender balance in the fields of these disciplines. The project will develop an awareness-raising strategy and create a stakeholder collaboration network for the implementation of a set of actions in more than 20 EU countries. The project envisions attracting more young women to the raw materials related scientific and engineering sectors.

 

UNEXUP Kick-off – Budapest

The LPRC team was in Budapest, Hungary, on the 6th and 7th of February, to participate in the new EIT Raw Materials UNEXUP project, which is a direct continuation of the H2020 UNEXMIN project. LPRC participated in UNEXMIN and continues to UNEXUP to lead the communication and dissemination efforts.

The kick-off aimed at starting discussions and planning on the future of the UX-1 technology to explore flooded mines and other underwater environments. Contrary to what was seen in UNEXMIN, where the technology was designed, developed and tested, UNEXUP will aim at market research and at bridging the technology closer to the underwater markets.

During the first day, presentations on the 5 Work Packages that make the project were presented by the respective leaders, with LPRC making its presentation on the Communication, Dissemination and Outreach guidelines for the project. These work blocks were then deeply discussed during the following day: go to market, further technological development, pilots, communication and dissemination and project management were at the core of the discussions.

LPRC participated in the discussions of the work to be developed and presented its ideas for proper communication of the project to the stakeholders following the success that was the UNEXMIN project where LPRC also lead the communication efforts. Will this be a good omen?

MOBI-US Kick-off – Budapest

LPRC team members Luís Lopes and Márcio Tameirão participated in one of the company’s new projects kick-off meetings: MOBI-US. This first meeting was held in Budapest on the 4 and 5 of February with partners from Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Finland and Austria.

The MOBI-US kick-off meeting started on the first day with a general introduction of the partners as well as an introductory look on the project’s main goals and objectives. The aims of this EIT Raw Materials project – which are to establish a network programme between different Europen universities while following best practices and recommendations from other more experienced universities and companies – were discussed from the coordinator’s point of view. On this day, Luís Lopes presented to the consortium the work that LPRC has been developing in the previous years and what it can bring to MOBI-US to help the project achieve its goals.

On the second day, the focus was on more in-depth discussions on each of the Work Packages. The guidelines to follow, the network to create and the workshops that will prove and extend the network methodology were discussed. To this mix, LPRC brought discussions on how to properly communicate and disseminate the MOBI-US project and its activities. LPRC has proven background in this type of work and will lead the Communication and Dissemination work. The team will also support other project’s activities including setting up the guidelines for the network and the elaboration of workshops.

The MOBI-US project will run for the next 18 months with active participation from LPRC.

Geothermal event, Brussels

On the 4th and 5th of February, the Geothermal community gathered in Brussels to expose the state of the art of geothermal energy in Europe and discuss best practices. On this occasion, La Palma Research Centre and  the CROWDTHERMAL project were present to participate in these discussions. During these events, 3 main topics were discussed.

Firstly, the preliminary results of the GEOENVI project were unveiled. GEOENVI is an European funded project whose aim is to answer environmental concerns in terms of both impacts and risks, by first setting an adapted methodology for assessing environment impacts to the project developers, and by assessing the environmental impacts and risks of geothermal projects operational or in development in Europe. The presentation unveiled the results of on-going work: state of the art and characteristics of geothermal plants in the EU, First draft of Life Cycle Assessment and legislative background on geothermal of GEOENVI´s selected cases study (e.g. Hungary and Italy).

Secondly, the presentation of GEOENVI paved the way to environmental concerns regarding geothermal plants. For that matter, the project partners published their Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), guidelines for geothermal plants. These guidelines will be made public to help monitor all the eventual risk encountered during all four phases of a geothermal project (e.g. exploration, drilling, operation and decommission) and tools to mitigate these risks to render any geothermal operation context as safe as possible both for the environment and surrounding communities.

Finally, EGEC monitored a group discussion on the influence of the public regarding geothermal plants in the EU.

Based on an Italian case study, public acceptance towards geothermal plants has the potential to save or kill geothermal projects. Thanks to the insight of Croatian and Hungarian experts, the group reached a consensus: in order to be successful, any geothermal project has to communicate in a transparent manner with local population, show the benefits of geothermal over other sources of energy and the direct perks of having district heating thanks to geothermal. The group discussion also concluded that crowdfunding schemes should be explored to incentive local population to have a direct impact on energy production (being either electricity or heating and cooling). This latter remark is particularly relevant for the CROWDTHERMAL project. This Horizon2020 project aims to empower the European public to directly participate in the development of geothermal power projects with the help of alternative financing schemes (e.g. crowdfunding) and social engagement tools.

AGEO event, Canary Islands

On the 27th of January, an event of half a day was organized by the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME), the University of La Laguna (ULL) and La Palma Research Centre (LPRC) with the collaboration of the Spanish Government delegation in the Canary Islands, to introduce and disseminate the activities of the AGEO Interreg Atlantic Area project to the relevant stakeholders in the region.

AGEO aims to launch several pilots on citizen observatories to highlight how citizen involvement in risk prevention can strengthen regional and national management systems, and the outcome of this specific initiative will be used to formulate recommendations for the creation of future permanent observatories in response to the wide range of hazards in the European Atlantic areas – floods, fires, earthquakes, among others.

The Canarian pilot is being organized in Gran Canaria, Tenerife and El Hierro, with a focus on landslides, where the collaborators will reach out to local communities in order to get them actively involved in the preparation and surveillance of landslides in an Archipelago with a very particular geological activity and characteristics.

The day of the presentation at the Delegation of the Government in the Canary Islands involved Ariadna Ortega, representing La Palma Research Centre, as well as Juan Carlos Santamarta, of the University of La Laguna, who focused on the details of the present and future activities of  AGEO. The Geological and Mining Institute of Spain, an autonomous research body attached to the Ministry of Science and Innovation, was represented by Isabel Montoya and Inés Galindo, who illustrated the work of the Copernicus Program and its Management Service (EMS) and the work that will be materialized in the Citizens’ Observatory of the Canary Islands.

ROBOMINERS Consortium Meeting, Tallinn

It was in Tallinn, Estonia, that the ROBOMINERS project partners were brought together to discuss the current state of this H2020 project as well as to prepare the future steps in the development of the bio-inspired robot for mining mineral deposits that are small or difficult to access. If successful, ROBOMINERS technology could shape the future of the mineral exploration and exploitation industries and at large adapt the raw materials sector to more sustainable practices.

The meeting in Tallinn, held on the 14th and 15th of January 2020, kickstarted on the first day with a revision of the project’s technical work packages. From Robotics to Raw Materials the ROBOMINERS partners discussed a number of topics that are likely to shape the current and future development of the project’s main concept: to develop a robot that can mine in difficult environments in flooded conditions. After these, technical sessions showed light on the main topics of the project. Here, partners could discuss and contribute to more specific robotics and raw materials items. Examples include the use of legged locomotion as a means of robotic movement or the most adequate geological environments and commodities to be mined with the Robotminer.

On the second day the ROBOMINERS team had a “Workshop on bio-inspired legged locomotion” with presentations based on Robotics developments made by the consortium partners. Then, LPRC hosted its own foresight activity: a Horizon Scanning exercise – where the company members tried to lay the current state-of-play and future developments in key specific areas within the robotics and raw materials fields, in an interactive exercise with the ROBOMINERS internal experts. The results of this exercise will allow the LPRC team to better prepare and adapt the remaining foresight tasks envisaged for WP8 – Active roadmapping and clustering.

Now it is time for the LPRC team to process the results and further involve experts to guide the project technological development in the future.

MIREU Workshop, Krakow

The MIREU Project is establishing a network of mining & metallurgy regions across Europe and, in that context, the AGH University hosted the ‘Workshop on skills requirements’ on December 5th and 6th in Krakow, Poland. LPRC took part as guest speakers representing INTERMIN, having the opportunity to share some insights generated during the project.

LPRC’s presentation highlighted the importance of current sectoral trends related to ‘Industry 4.0’ and Sustainable Development and how these affect the set of skills that will be required in the future of the raw materials sector. Additionally, geographical complexities arising from different mining regions and their social and cultural aspects should be properly considered. Participants from Poland, Finland, Germany, Slovakia and Portugal, representing industry, government and academia helped to enrich the discussions with different perspectives.

The workshop was followed by the celebration of Barbórka – the miners’ day in Poland – and its 100th anniversary at the AGH University. The festivities also shined light over the importance of mining and metallurgy industries and their traditions for the region and were the perfect insipiration for thinking about the future of more socially responsible mining and metallurgy sectors in the EU – a necessity acknowledged by everyone.