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UNEXUP presented at the virtual Mineral Exploration Symposium 2020

The 2020 edition of the Mineral Exploration Symposium was a two-day virtual event (17-18 September) organized by the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE). Despite the fact that it had to be held online, it was still a great opportunity for many researchers and members of the mining industry to present and discuss the current state of projects and initiatives that intend to address a continuous supply of critical raw materials to the EU.

The first day started with an introductory section, lead by members of the European Commission. One of the speakers – Gerardo Herrera (DG Grow) – mentioned the UNEXMIN project, in which LPRC was an active partner, during his talk on “Introduction to the EU challenges on mineral exploration and its importance for the society”.

The following sessions covered EU-funded projects related to raw materials exploration methods, technologies and innovation in the sector, which is a crucial step towards the achievement of the ambitious climate goals set by the EU Green Deal. The technologies involved in the clean energy transition (e.g. electric cars, wind turbines, solar panels and others) will require a substantial amount of critical raw materials, which translates to an increase in mining activities and new exploration methods in the EU.

LPRC member Márcio Tameirão represented the UNEXUP project under Session 3: European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Raw Materials, by presenting the context, history, and current state of the activities towards the improvement and commercialization of the UX-based robotic technology.

The event counted with a maximum of 200 attendees, from all over the world, who could learn more and ask questions about the current state of the many ongoing EU-funded raw materials projects.

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.

PRO-ACT – Preliminary Design Review, Bremen

On the 7th and 8th of November LPRC participated in the PRO-ACT‘s Preliminary Design Review meeting, in Bremen, Germany. During this two-day event, LPRC contributed to the discussions with information on possibilities for field tests, dissemination opportunities and exploitation measures.

The most recent PRO-ACT meeting was held in Bremen, Germany, where the partners that are developing an innovative concept for Planetary Robots Deployed for Assembly and Construction Tasks using lunar analogues, got together to discuss and present the most recent developments in the project. The work development under WP2 –  Preliminary Design and Modelling was presented and the official start of WP3 – Detailed Design of Demonstrator and Related Test Setup was done. Together with these, discussions on project dissemination efforts and on future exploitation possibilities completed the fruitful two-days event.

The partners had the opportunity to see the robotics laboratory of DFKI, which hosted the meeting. DFKI recently developed a robot – named MANTIS – that is planned to be used under the PRO-ACT’s line of work, together with robots from other project partners.

LPRC was once again glad to contribute to the advancement of the project’s tasks with the support to the identification and preparation of the lunar analogue missions at indoor and outdoor sites in Europe, a major task, essential to prove the concept developed under PRO-ACT. LPRC’s experience on dissemination and exploitation of the project’s results is also of a valuable nature to the implementation of the project.

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?

UNEXMIN Final Project Meeting, Brussels

LPRC participated at the final UNEXMIN Project Meeting, held in Brussels, on the 25th of September. This meeting was scheduled one month before the end of the project, so the team has the time to finalise details and wrap-up results and outcomes of this success story, which LPRC helped to build.

To the one-day final project meeting call the consortium answered with a total of 40 participants from all the 12 partner representatives. The morning sessions were dedicated to present the current state of the project as well as to what the future holds for UNEXMIN, but most importantly for the UX-1 unique technology. For the latter, there are already good news: a joint company was created to exploit the project’s technology – meet UNEXMIN GeoRobotics!

During the afternoon two different meetings were held: one Advisory Board meeting and a Steering Committee meeting. In both councils the discussions worked mostly around the future exploitation possibilities for the UNEXMIN technology and how the project itself is seen as a success story in the raw materials and robotics panorama.

The UNEXMIN project officially ends on the 31st of October, but there is still a lot to do. Wrapping-up results, finalising reports and documents and prepare the future are just some of the tasks ahead for this month.

LPRC is very happy and grateful to be part of such an interesting project and consortium, having contributed to different relevant aspects such as communication & dissemination, technology roadmapping and future exploitation.

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.

UNEXMIN presented at AIMS 2019, Aachen

On the 13th and 14th of June, during the AIMS – Aachen International Mining Symposia – 2019, Luís Lopes, from LPRC, gave a talk about the development and current state of the UNEXMIN, under the Second International Conference “Mines of the future”. UNEXMIN is developing an exploration technology that might be part of a vision where mines are innovative and sustainable.

The two days event counted with numerous personnel from academia, research, industry and governmental bodies, all interested or involved in mining and related topics. There has been a number of keynote talks and presentations, divided into sessions and a panel discussion, fostering dialogue on the different emerging topics.

The first day started with three keynote talks about the sustainability of mining in the present and future, and on the current best practices. Six main sessions succeeded, with 4 to 5 presentations per session:

  1. Science: Tailings & Mine wastes
  2. Technology: Digitalisation
  3. Science: Methods & measurements
  4. Science: Mining challenges
  5. Technology: Equipment & methods
  6. Innovation: Modelling

The UNEXMIN project was introduced under session 5 – Technology: Equipment & methods, by Luís Lopes: “Re-exploring flooded mines: the UNEXMIN unique robotic solution”. The talk was well received by the audience, which showed big interest in a number of questions that focused on the technology as well as on policy aspects on its application.

On the second day, two parallel sessions kickstarted discussions: 1) Technology: Resource extraction and 2) Technology: New systems. A unique session on “Responsibility: Engagement and closure” ended the talks of the conference, right before the final panel discussion on the “Mines of the future need to be different from those of today!”.

Posters sessions and exhibitions of mining companies completed a very innovative and interesting event. The network possibilities with partners from different areas of the globe and the raw materials value chain were also very welcome.

It was a great pleasure that LPRC and the UNEXMIN project was represented in an important discussions about the present and future of mining activities, spanning through all the value chain, from exploration to exploitation and even to mine closure and remediation.

LPRC is actively taking part of a change that is already ongoing!

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