UNEXMIN at PDAC 2018, Canada

The EU-funded Horizon2020 UNEXMIN project will be featured in the “Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada” – PDAC, in a exclusive European Union booth specially dedicated to showcasing some of the European Horizon 2020 projects focussed on exploration and mining. The PDAC conference is held in Toronto Canada, and this year it will happen between the 4th and 7th of March.

PDAC International Convention, Trade Show and Investors Exchange is considered to be one of the main global events towards mineral exploration and the mining sector. The conference will count with a large number of companies and personnel from the mineral exploration and mining industry, seeking knowledge and opportunities. It is expected that the UNEXMIN project and its future technology will raise some interest, bringing forward the exploitation of the project’s results –  culminating with the technology being available for market purposes in the year 2020.

If you are going to be present at the PDAC 2018 conference, make sure to pay a visit to the European Union’s booth and have a look at the UNEXMIN project!

First UNEXMIN consortium meeting in 2018. Bled, Slovenia

The UNEXMIN project consortium partners got together in Bled, Slovenia, during the 31st of January and 1st of February, to discuss about the many current project achievements and future prospects for the development of the autonomous UX-1 robot and its innovative technology to explore and map flooded mines.

UNEXMIN consortium partners present in Bled

The two-day event started with the always necessary welcome speech and practicalities to which followed a general introduction of the UNEXMIN project. This point was of particular importance due to the presence of new members on the audience – three new advisory board members and the EFG Linked Third Parties members. In order to keep everyone connected to the most recent developments in the UNEXMIN project, the 8 main work packages (WP) were presented. The main themes for each presentation were as follows:

  • WP1 – Robotic functions validation: advancements on the robot’s hull manufacturing and the tests on basic robotics’ functions;

  • WP2 – Scientific instrument design and adaptation: discussion and display of the sensors developed specifically to the robot, as the water sampler and sub-bottom profiler;

  • Wp3 – Autonomy for mine exploration and mapping: planning for the development of the first version of UX-1 software tools for spatial awareness and navigation;

  • WP4 – Multi-robot platform development: assembly of the robot before the first field test with UX-1 – assembly in April; trial in June;

  • WP5 – Stakeholder mobilisation: stakeholder engagement by the consortium partners and development of the European database of flooded mines;

  • WP6 – Post-processing and data analysis functions: status of the post-processing software tools and data management;

  • WP7 – Demonstration/pilots: trial in the Kaatiala mine (June) and mission planning procedures;

  • WP8 – Dissemination, technology transfer and exploitation: communication activities done by the consortium partners, plans for the future research roadmapping and technology explotation tasks.

The meeting proceeded with two important sessions: the Advisory Board and Steering Committee meetings. On the first, discussions were driven by the comments of the 6 advisory board members present – their objective is to help the project improve, making helpful suggestions from their vast expertise in the robotics and raw materials fields. The steering committee was the place where the partners could discuss important topics and take crucial decisions. At the same time as these meetings were held, there were parallel technical discussions on the development of UX-1 and the preparations for its assembly during April. A virtually reality set that created a lot of expections to a feature that is still to be developed for UNEXMIN by the project partners, together with some of the developed sensors were also shown around to participants.

The second day was reserved to technical discussions, mainly focussing on the first trial for the UX-1 robot, and the UNEXMIN technology. This first test will happen between the 11th and 25th of June in the Kaatiala pegmatite mine, Finland. It intends to give the first field results on the exploration and mapping capabilities of the robotic system. Feedback from this trial will then be used by the technology developing partners to further upgrade the robot. This process will make the robotic system ready for the second trial at the Idrija mine, in Slovenia, to happen at the beginning of September this year. Following the discussions, the consortium held an interactive debate regarding the future exploitation of the results – that will be translated into the creation of a company offering the UNEXMIN services to the market.

In the end, and after all the debates regarding the past, present and future state of the UNEXMIN project, the meeting in Bled was very rewarding!

The UNEXMIN consortium thanks the participation and good advice given by the advisory board and all other members.

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!