Frequently Asked Questions
What is UNEXMIN?
UNEXMIN (UNderwater EXplorer for flooded MINes) is a European project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, involving a number of institutions from various countries in Europe.
What are the main objectives?
In UNEXMIN we want to create a fully autonomous Robotic Explorer, named UX-1, that will use non-invasive methods for 3D mine-mapping in Europe’s inaccessible flooded and deep mines. This will lead to valuable geological and mineralogical information that may result in a reopening of long-inactive mines with new exploration scenarios, if the gathered data supports economic feasibility.
UNEXMIN specific goals are:
- To design and build a multi-platform Robotic Explorer for autonomous 3D mapping of flooded deep mines
- To demonstrate the operation of the prototype at a set of representative sites
- To develop an open access platform for technology transfer and further development between stakeholders
- To develop a research roadmap in support of further technology development
- To develop commercial services for exploiting the technology
Why UNEXMIN will be so important in the future?
Europe has about 30,000 closed mine sites, many of which have considerable amounts of important raw materials, leftovers from previous explorations.
As raw materials become more and more scarce, Europe will have to adapt to new conditions and start looking for resources that were left behind in the past, using innovative and environmentally-friendly methods – with the UNEXMIN project this search for long inaccessible resources could be materialised.
In what areas can the robotic system be useful?
UX-1’s technology is envisaged to be useful in a wide range of areas:
- Providing information about mineral deposits and opening new exploration scenarios for raw materials;
- Drafting more informed and successful drilling plans for exploration;
- Giving access to new geological data necessary to understand Earth’s processes;
- Underwater exploration in highly hazardous or dangerous areas (nuclear accidents, toxic spills, surveying of
unstable underwater environments);
- Offering supporting data to archaeology, civil engineering, energy efficiency or resource
management, amongst others;
- Monitoring the integrity of structures;
- Environmental monitoring;
- Cave exploration
- Tourism planning development
Where will the UX-1 be tested?
UX-1 will be tested in a number of increasingly harsher environments. Such test sites will include:
- Kaatiala pegmatite mine, Finland
- Urgeiriça uranium mine, Portugal
- Idrija mercury mine, Slovenia
- Ecton copper mine, UK
When will the construction of UX-1 start? And the first field tests?
The construction of the first prototype – putting together the hull and all the instruments – will start this Autumn and it should be ready during early-2018.
The first field tests will occur during mid-2018 in the Kaatiala Mine in Finland.
In case of failure during UX-1’s missions, is there any safe protocol?
Yes. In case of failure of one (or more) of the robots, human divers will be used to recover the robots, as long as no danger to them is involved.
The UNEXMIN team is currently doing everything possible during the development and testing phases of hardware and software to avoid possible failures.
Is the robotic system safe for geo/historical heritage site activities?
Yes, it will be – the system will use non-invasive methods in its missions. Two of the test sites in UNEXMIN are considered as very important cultural heritage sites: the Idrija mine in Slovenia and the Ecton mine in the UK. Those test sites will prove that the technology developed by UNEXMIN won’t harm any of its application environments in any way.
I think UNEXMIN is a great project and would like to help develop it. How can I do this?
The UNEXMIN consortium welcomes all kinds of input from interested parties. Just contact the project coordinator Norbert Zajzon at firstname.lastname@example.org.