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Closing of the UNEXMIN Project

The UNEXMIN project, where LPRC leaded tasks on Dissemination, Technology transfer and Exploitation, has now ended, after a period of 45 months, where a multidisciplinary team from 7 European countries contributed to the development of a multi-robotic platform to map and explore flooded mines.

UNEXMIN brought together geoscientists, robotics engineers, policy makers and others from the fields of robotics and geology, to deliver an innovative technology capable of exploring flooded mines, caves and other environments and collecting valuable geological and visual information. Besides this main output, UNEXMIN also delivered, among others, an Inventory of Flooded Mines in Europe, various unique data from the test sites and a joint company that will keep exploitation of the technology going forward.

Within UNEXMIN, LPRC was responsible for:

  • Developing and maintaining the project website and social media channels
  • Create dissemination material such as brochures, posters and press releases
  • Develop a research roadmap for the future of the technology
  • Initiate and bring forward the establishment of the joint company UNEXMIN GeoRobotics
  • Other tasks contributing to dissemination of the project such as presentations in conferences and workshops around Europe

LPRC is proud to have contributed to the development of the project and will continue to help in the exploitation of the technology to several target markets: flooded mines, caves, fishing ponds, water pipes and much more. Will the future be bright for the UX-1 robots and the technology?

Constructing Social Futures conference, Turku

Constructing Social Futures – Sustainability, Responsibility and Power conference took place between 12-13th of June in Turku, Finland, bringing together the foresight community. The theme was the concept of agency in action and research for futures. ‘Constructing Futures’ emphasizes opportunities and challenges related to the need for building and critically evaluating capabilities necessary for sustainable futures. This conference created a cross-disciplinary platform where participants could meet, share, and discuss new ideas concerning social futures. These two days consisted of keynote lectures, parallel sessions, participatory workshops and chaired poster session, from multidisciplinary topics.

The fist keynote presentation was held by Dr. Ivana Milojević (Metafuture) about the Power for, against, with and within: Futures studies as practice. Ivana’s set the tone for the conference with her passionate talk addressing two central questions: “Can futures studies, as a practice, make a difference?”, and “To what extent are futures being constructed through participation that reflects moral agency and leads to better futures for all?”. The second keynote presentation was given by Professor Ullrich Kockel (Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh) about the Heritage Futures: Tradition, Gain, Sustainability. The afternoon continued with 7 paralel sessions for ~15 minute presentations on topics such as Combining corporate foresight with corporate social responsibility and Citizen science, power, responsibility and foresight.

LPRC was represented by Tamas Miklovicz, who gave a presentation about the Application of foresight methods in the research of a disruptive geothermal technology (CHPM), in the session on Foresight activities and their effect on sustainability transitions. The presentation was focusing on the methodological aspect of how to make use of foresight tools for such a challenging technology. The presentation was well received and participants appreciated the robust methodology behind the CHPM roadmapping process. You can have a look at Tamas’s presentation in  the video below:

The second day continued with sessions and workshops on topics like Back to the futures we want: Envisioning and backcasting for Sustainable futures, and Utopias to combat futures by-negation, and The roles of futures studies in the negotiation of values and desired futures. The event was concluded with two keynote presentations. First Professor Keri Facer talked about All our futures? Climate change, democracy and missing public spaces. The second was given by Professor Ted Fuller On responsible futures: What can we do, what should we do?

All keynote speakers were donated a ~3 hectare peatland in Finland. Peatlands are the largest natural terrestrial carbon store, and among the most important ecosystems on Earth*, also helping us to reduce carbon footprint of the anthropocene.

You can read the Book of Abstract here and you may rediscover the event on Twitter following the #futuresconference2019.

The Futures Conference 2019 was very inspiring! Many great ideas have been shared, discussed and agreed about building a more sustainable future. After the conference, arriving home, the real question remains: are we going to plant these seeds into our everyday life to nurture a sustainable future? We all hope that we do indeed, throughout our everyday decisions.

*https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/peatlands-and-climate-change

RoboMiners Kick-off meeting, Madrid

The 13th and 14th of June the Politechnical University of Madrid hosted the kick-off meeting of the newly started Robominers project.

ROBOMINERS will develop a bio-inspired, modular and reconfigurable robot-miner for small and difficult to access deposits and presents a solution for reopening many of Europe’s abandoned underground mines, without the need for a full recommissioning and in particular without the need for dewatering the mine. Under this application scenario it will be possible to resume mining exactly where it was abandoned in the past, which may have been several hundreds of years ago, turn the mine into a profitable business and produce sufficient revenues to cover the costs of a full-scale remediation of any environmental pollution from the past.

The consortium is formed by 14 outstanding members with the coordination of the Politechnical University of Madrid and includes the University of Tampere, University of Miskolc, University of Leoben, the European Federation of Geologists, the Belgian Royal Institute of Natural Sciences, Assimagra, the Geological Survey of Slovenia, Resources Computing International, GeoMontan, the Tallin University of Technology, the Mineral and Energy Economic Research Institute of Poland, K-Utec and, of course, La Palma Research.

During the kick-off meeting the novel idea of a bio-inspired resilient mining robot was discussed and the concept of the project was defined amongst all members.

LPRC lead Work Package 8, Active roadmapping & clusters and collaborates in almost all other Work Packages, but most actively in Work Package 10 Dissemination and Outreach.

CHPM2030 Roadmapping workshop, Las Palmas

LPRC organised the CHPM2030 Roadmapping Workshop in Las Palmas as a follow-up of the previous Visioning workshop, under WP6 – Roadmapping and preparation for pilots. The participants were selected from both Consortium members and external research centres and companies from the geothermal and mineral sectors.

After the introduction presentations from Tamás Madarasz: CHPM2030 State of the art, Tamás Miklovicz: WP6 context, and Marco Konrat: Roadmapping methodology, the main tasks were the validation of previously identified targets (vision), and the backcasting exercise itself. The targets are related to  two distinct time horizons: 2030 pilot level (TRL 6-7), and 2050 full scale application (TRL 8-9). The sum of the targets is the vision description, and it is formulated as the desired end-state to arrive by 2050. The proposed targets were delivered at the Visioning workshop with the use of the results from the Delphi survey, and the Horizon Scanning exercise.

In short, the Vision describes where to go (targets) and the Roadmap outlines how to get there (actions + timeline). The backcasting exercise allowed the CHPM team to investigate how to reach the goals and what actions and paths need to be taken and pursued. Whenever investigating a target, the group considered three aspects, when formulating the actions: 1) underlying research & knowledge, 2) capabilities, performance & technologies and, 3) partnership and actors. When thinking about the long term targets in 2050, “wildcards”, unexpected disruptive events that may influence reaching the vision, were also considered. The participants were split into two parallel groups for the sake of the exercise: development and exploration, and operation and market, facilitated by Tamas Miklovicz and Marco Konrat, respectively. At the last session, all participants came together and the group facilitators presented the results from the previous two sessions.

This line of activities will be only one layer of the final CHPM2030 roadmaps. This particular aspect is testing the overall concept of the cross fertilization of the geothermal and mineral industries. The second layer consists of investigating concrete areas for CHPM application and providing gaps and recommendations at four EU study areas in Sweden, UK, Portugal and Romania. The third layer is the direct followup and research plan of the current technological components of the CHPM scheme. When put together, these elements will make up the final Research Roadmap for the CHPM technology.

During the second day, the participants visited the Spanish Bank of Algae, as part of a field trip The facility provides many services, including the bank of microalgae and cyanobacteria strains, genomic DNA bank, algal biomass production for industry, production of seaweed extracts on demand for companies in the biotechnology sector, analysis of samples for the determination of algae, deposit and maintenance of strains for registration of industrial property. More than 2000 algae strains are stored in the algae bank and  many interesting research activities were presented to the group. The next stop was PLOCAN, the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands. The guided tour included a presentation of the ongoing activities and research of the infrastructure and a visit to the control room and laboratories with ROVs, sailbouys and submarine autonomous gliders.

The LPRC team will now take these new input and start drafting the roadmaps for the CHPM technology in the future! We will present the roadmap at the final conference in Delft, and it will be finalised later in June!

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!

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!

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.

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.

Events

EU Raw Materials Week 2019

The 4th edition of the EU “Raw Materials Week” will take place from Monday 18 to Friday 22 November 2019, in Brussels. It builds up on a series of events organised by the European Commission addressing the latest news on raw materials in the EU. The RMW will be a unique opportunity for the raw materials community to discuss and exchange on all relevant issues: policy, technology, international cooperation, framework conditions, knowledge base etc.

Further information, registration and reference: www.eurawmaterialsweek.eu

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