The “Use of robotics and automation for mineral prospecting and extraction” conference was a success!

The UNEXMIN project was one of the co-organizers of the conference entitled “Use of robotics and automation for mineral prospecting and extraction”, together with the ¡VAMOS! and Real-Time Mining projects – all of them funded by the Horizon 2020 framework programme. The one-day conference was held in Bled, Slovenia, on the 30th of January, 2018. It was centred in two main sessions: one dedicated to  plenary talks and presentations; the other to interactive workshops. These sessions had the three projects has a major focus.

The day before the meeting, particpants were invited for a field visit to the Idrija Mercury Mine, located in the western part of Slovenia. The Idrija mine is a former mercury mine that was active for more than 500 years, mined for cinnabar and natural occurring mercury and that is now a UNESCO heritage site since 2012. A visit to the smelting plant finished the field trip. It is important to note that the Idrija will be one of the 4 test sites for the UX-1 robot. This day offered the participants the perfect introduction to Slovenia, to mining and the use of robotics – the main themes of the conference.


On the 30th morning, the conference started with the usual welcoming speeches and introdutory talks. To these, a plenary session with talks on Advances in Subsea Mining, Future Mining, Robotics in Slovenia and on the Idrija Mercury Mine followed. After the groudwork presentations the conference was divided in Hardware and Software technical talks, focussing on both the UNEXMIN and ¡VAMOS! projects developments. The first part of the conference ended with three presentations related to the three co-organizing projects. The UNEXMIN general talk closed the session, leaving a very good impression on the participants.


On the afternoon, two simultaneous workshops took place, both dedicated to the UNEXMIN and ¡VAMOS! projects. To this, the group was divided between exploitation and research roadmapping workshops. The first, centralised in the exploitation of the results coming from both projects, tried to deliver ideas to obtain further funding, the post-project exploitation strategy to follow and how to persuade costumers to buy/invest into new technologies (like UNEXMIN and ¡VAMOS!). The latter, established discussions to identify possible future research opportunities for the projects in three fields: geological data collection, spatial awareness and navigation, and extraction.


The results obtained from the exploitation and research roadmapping workshops, will surely help in the future development of the projects. Knowing how to explore the technology and how to further improve and adapt it to the future is essential.

The UNEXMIN consortium thanks for the important input given by everyone and to the Geological Survey of Slovenia for organizing this fruitful event!

UNEXMIN important events in 2018

The UNEXMIN project is soon going to enter its 3rd running year – a very important turning point, with the first UX-1 prototype entirely ready and trial missions in real-life environment. For this purpose, a timeline with the major events for the year 2018 is delineated, so stakeholders can easily know and follow UNEXMIN milestones for this year.

The year 2018 will bring a tight schedule in the UX-1 development to the UNEXMIN consortium. The project partners will have to prove the operability of the robotic system, both in hardware and software, in two mines in Europe: Kaatiala (Finland) and Idrija (Slovenia). The trials will be preceded by important deliverables related to software improvements. Among other checkpoints for this year, here are the most important ones:

  • A report on robot software/hardware documentation (February)
  • The inventory of Europe’s flooded mines (April)
  • The first software and post-processing tools developed and ready for UX-1 (May)
    • Real-time navigation and mapping
    • Low level control and exploration
    • UX-1 robot mission control
    • Three-dimensional visualisation software
  • UX-1 first prototype fully operational (May)
  • The trial in the Kaatiala Mine in Finland, and subsequent pilot report
  • The trial in the Idrija Mine in Slovenia, and subsequent pilot report

Delivering all the milestones in a timely manner will provide the perfect leverage for the last year of the project – due to end in October 2019.

Bringing to life an autonomous robotic system for the exploration and mapping of flooded mines was never achieved and this year can prove the absolute value of the UNEXMIN technology to a whole range of stakeholders, from the raw materials to the robotics communities.

UNEXMIN presented to the Mining Institute of Scotland

Dr. James Tweedie of RCI/4DCoders presented an overview of the UNEXMIN project including robot design and development, instrumentation, data processing and visualisation, and even the future test sites to prove the technology operability, to members of the Mining Institute of Scotland (part of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining) at Heriot Watt University (Edinburgh) on 13th December 2017.

This event was also relayed by live interactive link to the meeting room at BP in Aberdeen and a single attendee elsewhere in Scotland. The presentation about the UNEXMIN project lasted about 50 minutes and was followed by a number of perceptive and relevant questions from attendees, covering both sensors and robot operation in real conditions, supporting the relevance of the UNEXMIN technology to the mining/raw materials community.

General layout of the UX-1 robot

Despite poor weather conditions about 30 people in total attended the presentation. The talk was so intriguing, that one of the attendees suggested that UNEXMIN should be there again in two years, this time to present the results of the four field trials! The first test will be held already in June, this year.

From the UNEXMIN side, we sure hope to be there again in the future with more good news about the project!

UNEXMIN present at the “H2020 cluster event for ongoing mining projects”

The first ever EASME‘s event on Horizon 2020 mining projects, entitled “H2020 cluster event for ongoing mining projects”, took place in Brussels, Belgium on the 12th of December 2017. This event gathered H2020 and even FP7 projects that are dealing with the various aspects of mining such as underground and underwater exploration, automation, deep sea mining, amongst others.

H2020 and FP7 mining projects present at the event

The cluster event for ongoing mining projects, hosted participants from various EU-funded mining projects and the UNEXMIN project was one of those. During this one-day event there were presentations by each project regarding objectives, approaches, and challenges, with the final objective of trying to find synergies between the different mining projects, that have common points in many ways. The event’s presentations were divided in 6 main fields: Intelligent Mining, Deep Sea Exploration and Mining, Sustainable Selective Low-Impact Mining, Re-opening abandoned mines in the EU, Real Time Exploration and Real Time Mining, Alternative Mining and, finally, Climate Services for Mining.

The UNEXMIN project was presented by Dr. Norbert Zajzon, the project coordinator, and UNEXMIN was very well received by the audience, which included members from different EU bodies, due to its challenging and ground-breaking technology – developing an autonomous robotic system to explore flooded mines – that is still in the development phase.

UNEXMIN project presentation

Questions & Answers sessions for the “re-opening mines” session

The first edition of the “H2020 cluster event for ongoing mining projects” was a success, as it brought together different projects, dealing with common aspects of such an important sector as the mining one is. The UNEXMIN project hopes to be present again next year to share insights on the first field tests of the UX-1 robotic explorer!

Fictional depiction of the multi-robotic platform UX-1 in work in a flooded mine

UNEXMIN present at the 17th ICCAS conference in Jeju, South Korea

The 17th ICCAS (International Conference on Control, Automation and Systems) conference was held from the 18th to the 21st of October in Jeju, South Korea. UNEXMIN was presented during the first day on a plenary session related to “Mechatronic and Automation”. The ICCAS conference is internationally known as a place for applied science researchers, with mainly focus on mechatronics, robotics and automation. As of this, Soheil Zavari, researcher from TUT, working on the development of UX-1, presented the project in this forum.

Some Asian countries, like South Korea, have been investing a lot of time and money in robotic applications such as ROV, UAV and industrial robots. They’ve also developed a lot of theoretical research in this field. Introducing the new UNEXMIN concept of “exploring flooded mines using an autonomous system” to a robotics-focused community was then quite impactful. This translated into a lot of interest in the project as Soheil suggests: “Although there was little time (about 20min) for presenting the mechanical and mechatronic development of the UX-1 system, most of the researchers have been quite interested to see the real robot face-to-face”- this will actually happen in mid-2018 with the first field trial in the Kaatiala mine, in Finland.

General layout of the UX-1 robot

The UNEXMIN presentation, although being directed to the robotics audience, focussing on the maneuverability of the robot – propulsion, pendulum and ballast systems -, also touched other important points. Among these, there were references to the different works being developed by the different teams, such as scientific instrumentation, post-processing tools, among others. Another important point, was the introduction of the UX-1 main purpose of collecting geological data and the narrow launching and driving space that the autonomous system will face inside flooded mines.

All-in-all this was a very good opportunity to make the project known to the robotics community, as robotics are such an important part of UNEXMIN!