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Registration for the UNEXMIN final event is now open!

The UNEXMIN final event is set to happen on the 26th of September, later this year. It will count with a representative array of talks and discussions from robotics, raw materials and policy perspectives. Stakeholders are invited to take part on this event to learn more about UNEXMIN and the bigger European current and future perspective. Registration is free and is now open.

About the event

UNEXMIN is an EU-funded project that develops a novel robotic system for the autonomous exploration and mapping of Europe’s flooded mines. To learn more about these innovative mineral exploration techniques, we invite you to register now for the project’s final conference which will be held on 26th September 2019 in Brussels. At this occasion, project results, including the presence of one of the UX-1 robots, will be shown, discussed and demonstrated. The programme will include high-level discussions on raw materials policies, support from the UNEXMIN project to those policies and the European industrial innovation, and on the capabilities and future application of the exploration system.

Programme

The event sessions are now set and several speakers have already confirmed their attendance. The conference will be split into the following sessions:

  • Morning session: Setting the political context – the future of mining in Europe
  • Afternoon session I: Raw materials & mining
  • Afternoon session II: Robotics & functionalities
  • Round table and closing session

Who should attend?

The conference  will provide a unique opportunity to discuss the UNEXMIN project overall and its specific fields of work, including minerals exploration, raw materials exploitation, and robotics and ICT development, with cross-cutting discussions that aim at demonstrating the impact that UNEXMIN can have on the European landscape. Therefore it is particularly relevant for EU policymakers, academics, mineral exploration and exploitation companies, cave exploration companies, SMEs focussing on geological consultancy and minerals surveying, and robotics and ICT experts from private and public institutions.

More information and registration

Full information is available at https://www.unexmin.eu/unexmin-final-conference
Participation in this event is free but requires registration.
To register, please fill in the form at https://forms.gle/V64vHekSZVbTZmo59

Venue

Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Vautierstreet, 29 I 1000 Brussels I Belgium

 

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us!

Second week of field work and major achievements at the Urgeiriça mine, Portugal

The second half of the UNEXMIN’s field tests at the Urgeiriça underground flooded mine happened between the 1st and 7th of April, in Portugal, following the first two weeks of trials. For this second half of testing the team brought together both UX-1a and UX-1b to be tested in the waters of Urgeiriça. The highlights of this second half are:

  • 1st of April (Monday): The UNEXMIN team tested the UX-1a in the Lab test tank in the morning and packed both UX-1a and UX-1b robots and the needed equipment for the Urgeiriça trials in the afternoon. The team arrived at the Urgeiriça mine site around 20h00.
  • 2nd of April (Tuesday): The equipment was unpacked, the control room set-up and fiber optic communication with the shaft switch was tested. A field laboratory was also installed with all the required equipment in the control room, to assemble the UX-1 robots. In the afternoon, after all the basic tests/checks, the first dive was done with UX-1a. The main goal of this first dive was to map the vertical shaft with the robot facing the shaft itself, i.e., pitch down and pitch up. The maximum depth reached was 27m below the surface. Up to 20 meters deep the visibility was disturbed by the bubbles accumulated in the dome glasses of the cameras, which also disturbed the DVL and, consequently, the robot’s navigation. After 20m depth the visibility was good and the water clear.
  • 3rd of April (Wednesday): The robot’s weight was calibrated in water to have a better Roll when pitching Up and Down. A mapping dive was made on the central shaft up to 46.5m where all SLSs (Structured Light Systems) were tested with the robot in pitch down and pitch up positions. The construction of real-time maps using the “octomap” technique was also tested successfully.
  • 4th of April (Thursday): Open day to media and the general population at the trial site. Two national television stations (SIC, RTP) were present at the testing site. Norbert Zajzon (project coordinator; UNIM) and Alfredo Martins (INESC TEC) were interviewed by the television stations, which showed a lot of interest in the project.
    During this day two dives were made, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The morning dive was to the first level (22m below the surface) that served as a demonstration to the media and also to validate the mapping with all the sensors. At the entrance of this level a possible uranium rock was visually identified by Janos Horvath (Geo-Montan), proving the usefulness of the UNEXMIN technology to geologists and alike. In the afternoon dive, the depth of 46.2m was reached. In the ascent to the surface there was a power failure in the robot. UX-1 was successfully recovered due to the safe mechanisms applied by the UNEXMIN team, such as the umbilical cord that links the robot to a power source.
  • 5th of April (Friday): “Exame informática”, a Portuguese technology focused magazine, made a one-day mission coverage of the UNEXMIN project. Two dives were performed, one in the morning and the other by the end of the day. The morning dive served to validate the correct functioning of the robot after the corrections of the problems from the previous day. The end-of-the-day dive served to validate the real-time mapping with SLS and Multibeam sensors, where the robot reached a depth of 58m. After the dive, and taking advantage of the fact that there was no sunlight, the team tested the LEDs’ UV-light with the minerals example, in order to calibrate the triggering time of the LEDs and their intensity to facilitate identification of minerals.
  • 6th of April (Saturday): Two dives were performed, one up to 68m in the morning and another until the maximum depth reached, as of today, by the UX-1 robot: 106.5m! In the afternoon dive it was possible to obtain multispectral images in the 3rd level of rocky areas of interest. It was also possible to enter the gallery up to 9 meters and build the 3D map of it.
  • 7th of April (Sunday): Packing and cleaning the site.

The field trials at the Urgeiriça flooded mine site were completed successfully with a great effort made by the UNEXMIN’s technical teams. Together with the help from the local stakeholders (EDM), the elapsing of the trial – on both the first and second halves – went very well. From this long but fruitful trial, the major take-outs are:

  1. The first two robots, UX-1a and UX-1b, were for the fist time working together on the field
  2. The biggest dive with a UX-1 robot was reached – 106.5m
  3. Scientific instrumentation was tested successfully – UV light, water sampler and others
  4. Navigation and movement within the application environment saw improvements – moving pitch down and pitch up inside the shafts
  5. Good coverage and dissemination of the UNEXMIN project’s activities to the local and national media in Portugal.

The UNEXMIN partners will now continue with the project’s development – which includes the development of the third robot, UX-1c – and make preparations for the next field trial in the Ecton mine, UK.

UNEXMIN present at the 2nd International Real Time Mining Conference

The UNEXMIN project was recently invited to be part of the 2nd International Real Time Mining Conference as co-organiser like it was on the 1st edition of this event. This time, the event included a visit to the Reiche Zeche mine, in Freiberg, coupled with talks from the Real Time Mining project on the first day (26th March) and a conference day with presentations on mining exploration on the second (27th March). UNEXMIN presented four talks and contributed to the debate on the present and future of the raw materials sector.

On the first day, the UNEXMIN team members (4 partners institutions were representing the project in this event, i.e. LPRC, UNIM, INESC TEC and GeoZS), had the opportunity to learn more about the Real Time Mining project results and outcomes. A visit to the Reiche Zeche mine guaranteed a hands-on experience at the project’s exploration solution. The UNEXMIN team could exchange data and debate this new technology line with its developers and other interested parties.

It was, however, on the second day, that the UNEXMIN project gave its major contribution to the conference. A total of 4 presentations covering different aspects of the project, covering hardware, software and testing, were given to the audience:

1 – Developing an underwater robotic platform to explore flooded mines – the state of the UNEXMIN project
2 – Multispectral imaging of minerals in flooded mines – a case study
3 – UNEXMIN underwater 3D mapping with sonar and laser scan
4 – Testing of prototype robot UX‐1a for exploration and mapping of flooded underground mines

With these talks participants were introduced to the project and had the chance to learn more about its developments and description of work, to ask questions about the technology and to form synergies for the future. The UNEXMIN proposed line of work – to develop an autonomous underwater system to explore and map flooded mines – is inline with the European raw materials policy and, therefore, also inline with the development efforts made by other projects and companies within the mineral exploration and exploitation sectors.

The UNEXMIN team would like to thank the invitation and opportunity to be present at this event. Informing stakeholders of the current state of the project and its innovative developments is an intrinsic aim of the project. Debating this and other technologies with experts will bring the European raw materials and robotics sectors forward.

UNEXMIN to be presented at the Real Time Mining 2nd International Conferecence in Freiberg, Germany

The UNEXMIN project was invited by the Real Time Mining Project – both EU funded projects under Horizon 2020 and dealing with raw materials issues – to be present at their 2nd Internatioal Conference. UNEXMIN will join other projects in coorganizing the event. This conference will be held on the 27th of March, in Freiberg, Germany.

For this event, the UNEXMIN project will bring a total of four presentations, focussing on 4 areas:

  1. Overview presentation of the project and its current development state;
  2. The underwater 3D mapping tools developed within UNEXMIN;
  3. The multispectral imaging of minerals in flooded mines;
  4. The UNEXMIN field trials with the UX-1a robot.

UNEXMIN is aiming at contributing to the conference with talks on its innovative solution to explore flooded mines while contributing to raw materials knowledge in Europe. The project partners will engage in discussions with the remaining participants to strenghten possible collaborations between European projects and together contribute to the development of the European raw materials and robotics fields.

UNEXMIN is developing an autonomous underwater robotic system to explore and map flooded underground mines that allows geological, mineralogical and spatial data to be obtained in a cost-effective, non-risky way.

First week of field work at the Urgeiriça mine, Portugal

The UNEXMIN team is currently testing its innovative exploration solution in Portugal, at the closed and flooded underground Urgeiriça mine. The Urgeiriça field trials are divided in two sets of testing, with a period of laboratory work in between at INESC TEC. The first part has just ended and the first results are coming in:

  • 6th of March (Wednesday): The UNEXMIN team tested and packed the UX-1a robot and the needed equipment for the Urgeirica trials and travelled to the test site from Porto.
  • 7th of March (Thursday): The setup of the control room, launch site and the necessary communications went quickly as the Urgeiriça mine site had the appropriate infrastructures already in place. The first dive of the UX-1a robot was done on the afternoon of this same day, right after the team had received the necessary safety instructions from the Health and Safety body. The water table was ca. 7 m below the surface level in the shaft where the robot dived.
  • 9th of March (Saturday): The robot went down to 54m water depth (2nd level, 60m below surface level).
  • 11th (Monday) to 14th of March (Thursday): The UX-1a robot explored the shaft down to 104m water depth (4th level, 110 m bsl.). The entrances of the first four levels were mapped (1st level is at 30 m, 2nd at60 m, 3rd at 85 m and the 4th at 110m, below sea level).
    • The entrance chamber of the 1st level was partially collapsed, with lots of rocks, wood logs and metal pipes, so only a few metres were investigated not to risk the robot. The 2nd level is collapsed after few metres so it could not be searched. The 3rd level was in good condition, so this level was used in multiple test dives to test and develop the instruments. The visibility of the water in the mine was very good, and even with the sediment disturbed by the robot it sank quickly as it was in the sand-coarse size fraction.  The whole surface of the shaft was covered with wood, except the horizontal levels. The granite wall with black veins at the entrance of the 3rd level was recorded by the multispectral camera also. The γ-ray counter of the UX-1b was separately tested down to the 2nd level, lowered down in a cable parallel to another developed underwater γ-ray counter for cross validation.
  • 15th of March (Friday): The last dive was performed in the afternoon. After that, the control room and the site were partially disassembled until the second part of the field trials, from 1st of April onwards. The UNEXMIN team travelled back to Porto to INESC TEC’s laboratory and packed out the field equipment to continue testing and instrument calibration within the testing pool.

The first part of the Urgeiriça field trials went as expected: the UX-1a robot was further tested; instruments were working correctly; the robot as a whole performed its functions and managed to explore, map and gather information on some of the flooded areas of the Urgeiriça mine. These data will help the team to develop 3D maps and other visualisation tools of interest.

Now it is time for the team to proceed with the development of the UX-1b robot. This second robot, that will carry some other scientific equiment than its counterpart UX-1a, will be tested on the field during the second phase of the Urgeiriça field trials. It will collect some different data that will complement data gathered by UX-1a.

Back to the lab and then to the field again!

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