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Learn more about UNEXMIN at EGU2019!

Following a previous presentation of the UNEXMIN project in 2017, the team will be represented once again at EGU 2019. The abstract/presentation entitled “UNEXMIN: an innovative approach for mineral exploration in flooded mines” will show some light on the current and future development of this unique exploration technology. The UNEXMIN presentation aims to contribute to discussions on “The New Roadmap for Mineral Exploration: Challenges and Innovative approaches”.

The EGU2019 event will run during this whole week, from the 8th to the 12th of April, but UNEXMIN’s presentation will be held Monday, 8th of April. Find the exact details of the date and place below:

Scheduling information:

Programme group: ITS2
Session: ITS2.2/ERE4.4
Monday, 08 Apr 2019, 09:30–09:45
Room L7

Find UNEXMIN’s abstract for EGU2019 here: UNEXMIN EGU2019 abstract

The UNEXMIN project would like to invite all interested persons to come and learn more about the development of the robotic system and to debate the project!

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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!

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

The field trials at the Urgeiriça flooded mine, in Portugal, have finally started!

The third set of UNEXMIN’s field trials is now ongoing. After the two previous trials a lot of revisions and improvements were made to both the UX-1 robot both on hardware and soft aspects. The technical teams that operate the robotic system also gained important knowledge with the previous “experiments”. The second UX-1 robot is currently being assembled in INESC TEC’s laboratory, and both robots will take part in exploring and mapping the Urgeiriça mine flooded shafts from now until April.

Brief description of the mine

The Urgeiriça Mine, located in the Viseu district, center of Portugal, was once considered one of the most important deposits in Europe due to the exploitation of its strategic commodities: radium (from 1913 until 1944) and uranium (from 1944 until 1991). In 1967 the mine reached the maximum depth of approximately 500 metres below ground The mine seized its operation in 1991.

Urgeiriça’s mission objectives are the following:

  • Continue testing capabilities, autonomy and scientific instrument array of the prototype robot UX-1a in a uranium mine in Portugal under different challenging conditions
  • Test the functionality of the second prototype UX-1b in a realistic mining environment.
  • Trial simultaneous dives of both robot in a realistic mining environment
  • Provide information on the status of the flooded mine infrastructure, i.e. main galleries and shafts

First images of the UNEXMIN team on the field:

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