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Summary of the field tests at the Molnár János cave, Hungary

From the 26th of June to the 5th of July 2019, the UNEXMIN project was in Budapest, Hungary, for the last trial activities within the project’s lifetime. After the trials at four mine sites (Kaatiala – Finland, Idrija – Slovenia, Urgeiriça – Portugal and Ecton – UK) it was time to test the robotic solution in a new environment. For this purpose, a cave system was chosen – the Molnár János cave.

The trials at the Molnár János cave involved using the two existent UX-1 robots – UX-1a and UX-1b – to explore, map and collect information about the flooded area of the cave. Robotic capabilities including movement, control and data analysis, but with focus on autonomy, were extensively tested, with paramount results. The following items give an account of the activities and results derived from the UNEXMIN’s activities at the Molnár János cave:

  • 26th of June (Wednesday): Setting up the test site and preparation/testing of the UX-1 robots. Studying of current maps of the cave.
  • 27th of June (Thursday): The first official dive happened on the 27th of June. The UX-1b robot was used. It was able to dive up to 8m depth and map the main chamber of the cave. This mission lasted for 35 minutes.
  • 28th of June (Friday): Similarly to the previous day UX-1b was used. The robot explored a small portion of the cave outside of the main chamber in a 1h30 mission.
  • 29th of June (Saturday): Three dives were made on this day: one with UX-1a and two with UX-1b. The main chamber and some other smaller parts of the cave were mapped by the robots. In total, the robots were in the water for more than 2 hours.
  • 30th of June (Sunday): UNEXMIN off-day!
  • 1st of July (Monday): UX-1a was used three times during this day to explore the main parts of the cave system. Missions lasted for 4 hours in total. During these tests, the robot used autonomous waypoint navigation successfully – the robot was autonomous! UX-1a managed to get very good camera images from a very warm water (around 23ºC).
  • 2nd of July (Tuesday): Both UX-1 robots were working at the same time in the water, independently, to map and collect data from different areas of the cave. Teamwork!
  • 3rd of July (Wednesday): Three dives, two with UX-1a and one with UX-1b. Autonomy was the focus of these tests.
  • 4th of July (Thursday): Last dives of the robots: one for UX-1a, another for UX-1b. The robots’ capabilities, mainly movement and control, were targeted. During this last day of testing, the robots’ missions lasted for more than 5 hours, when combined.

With the ending of the Molnár János exploratory works, the UNEXMIN project was able to prove across the past year that its technology to explore and map flooded mines  – and other environments – is feasible and a good solution to a big problem: the lack of information from flooded environments. This was a major objective of the project, so the team considers it a success!

Now, it is time to wrap up things, process the data available and present UNEXMIN’s major results and outputs to the public during the final conferenceentrance is free, but registration is required.

UNEXMIN presented at AIMS “Mines of the Future” 2019 in Aachen

The UNEXMIN project was presented in the AIMS – Aachen International Mining Symposia- 2019 “Mines of the Future”. The current status and future of the project were presented to an audience of geologists, mining engineers and other geoscientific-related personnel from academia, research, industry and governmental bodies.

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:

Science: Tailings & Mine wastes
Technology: Digitalisation
Science: Methods & measurements
Science: Mining challenges
Technology: Equipment & methods
Innovation: Modelling

The UNEXMIN project was introduced under session 5 – Technology: Equipment & methods. Entitled “Re-exploring flooded mines: the UNEXMIN unique robotic solution” the presentation focused on the current state and the future opportunities created by this innovative exploration technology.

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!”.

It was great to have the UNEXMIN project represented in 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.

The UNEXMIN technology will shape the future of mineral exploration!

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!

The Ecton field trials have finally started!

The beginning of the Ecton trials marks the fourth time that the UNEXMIN team will be on the field with the UX-1 robots to explore Europe’s flooded mines. At Ecton, the UNEXMIN team aims at exploring and mapping the entire flooded part of the underground mine workings with its innovative system. The UX-1 robots will be able to show light on the status and layout of a mine that no one has seen for more than 160 years! The Ecton field trials run from the 13th to the 31st of May.

Before the actual field trials, preparatory workings were held last week in order to guarantee that the Ecton trials go as smooth as possible. With all the practicalities set up, the UNEXMIN technical teams – TUT, UPM, INESC TEC, RCI and UNIM – are now ready to have the UX-1 system to recover geological, mineralogical and spatial information from deep Ecton during the next three weeks. Together with the technical teams a group of geological experts from the project will give specific input to geological and mineralogical identification.

The Ecton Mine Education Trust, partners in UNEXMIN and representing an important spectra of stakeholders – the cultural heritage side -, are collaborating with the other partners to assure that the trials are a success. With the data collected by the UX-1 technology, EMET expects to gain knowledge and uncover a precious part of the mine’s past in the form of its long-lost mining heritage (such as mining instruments used in the past). EMET, with the help of UNEXMIN, can then use these data for education and cultural purposes, benefiting the society at large. Achieving this will also prove the operability of the UX-1 technology in very challenging conditions and, at the same time, its usefulness.

Ecton will be the home of UNEXMIN for the rest of May. The team will work hard to have its robotic system explore and map all the flooded tunnels and galleries of this mine, attempting an increadibly challenging task. Fingers crossed!

Follow @UNEXMIN on our social media channels to keep up with the most recent news on the Ecton field trials: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Preparations for the Ecton trial are on the way

The UNEXMIN team, ahead of the official start of the 4th field trial, at the Ecton mine, in the UK, have just started with the preliminary preparations to host the most challenging surveying case within the project. These workings are needed in order to guarantee easy accessibility and operation of the robotic system and the UNEXMIN personnel during the trials, both inside and outside the mine. These include power cable installlation, telephone links from the surface to the mine’s interior, a comfort cabin and storage containers. The control cabin, from where the UNEXMIN team monitor operations, will also be set on site. Together with practical preparations, the team is also ensuring that all the must health and safety procedures are followed.

The preparatory workings will run until the 10th of May, with the actual field trials starting out on the 13th. The UNEXMIN project will count with most of its robotic system’s technology developers during the Ecton trials, with some of them (TUT, INESC TEC and UNIM) already on their way to the UK.

The main aim of the trials at the Ecton underground mine is to explore and map the entire flooded section with the UX-1 robotic system that nobody has seen for more than 160 years, after the mine closed and got flooded. The UNEXMIN technology will be able to collect and bring valuable geoscientific and spatial data that can be used by the local stakeholders – the Ecton Mine Educational Trust – for cultural and educational purposes. Surveying the entire flooded sections of the mine will, ultimately, prove the operability of the UX-1 system, in very challenging conditions – big extensions, great depths and difficult to navigate layouts.

Follow @UNEXMIN on our social media channels to keep up with the most recent news on the Ecton field trials: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.