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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.

Save the date: UNEXMIN final conference

Save the date: The UNEXMIN final conference will be hosted in Brussels, on the 26th of September 2019! Take this unique opportunity to learn more about the project’s results and its link to European Raw Materials Policies and robotics.

About the UNEXMIN Final Conference

UNEXMIN will hold its final conference on 26th September 2019 in Brussels, ahead of the project’s closing in October. 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 European 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.

Who should participate?

The UNEXMIN final conference will give a unique opportunity for stakeholders to discuss the UNEXMIN project’s main fields of work: raw materials exploration, mining, robotics, ICT development and others. Therefore, this event is particularly relevant to EU policy makers, 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.

Venue

Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstreet, 29 I 1000 Brussels I Belgium

More information and registration

Registration will open by 29 April 2019.
To pre-register, send an email to alberto.sanchez@eurogeologists.eu.

UNEXMIN has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 690008. 

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.

The UNEXMIN project was present at the EU Industry Days 2019!

The UNEXMIN project was one of the 28 projects that were invited to be present at the EU Industry Days 2019, in Brussels. This unique event aimed at bringing together personalities from the most diverse sectors of industry within the EU and to showcase projects that are having impact on the EU’s industry panorama.

During the 5 and 6 of February the UNEXMIN consortium was invited to showcase its results in the event “EU Industry Days 2019” in Brussels. The project had the opportunity to have a unique stand from where three persons and one robot provided information to the participants about UNEXMIN and its development. The UX-1 robot, shipped from Porto on the sole purpose of this occasion was the star, not only of the UNEXMIN stand, but also of the exhibition. A blinking robot – its lasers and many cameras – makes wonders.

Overall, the UNEXMIN stand received a lot of interest from the passersby. In total, around 60 persons over the course of the two days dropped by the stand to discuss the robot and the technology attached to it. People were interested in learning more about the different techniques employed and the many uses that the innovative UNEXMIN solution can have in different sectors. From energy, to mining, to fishing, to underwater caving exploration, the UNEXMIN solution has aroused the interest of the crowd. Some people even approached the project team with a commercial interest – it is always great to see that the technology interests the stakeholders.

The UNEXMIN consortium would like to thank EASME for inviting the project to be present at such an important event. The consortium also thanks all the interested people that went to the stand to learn more about the UX-1 robot and the project itself – after all this technology is made for you.

UNEXMIN meeting in La Palma: UX-1 and field trials in the agenda

The UNEXMIN partners got together in the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain, to discuss and better prepare the last year of the UNEXMIN project, that will officially end on the 31st October. The two-day meeting (10 and 11 of January) aimed at providing a place to discuss the present and future development of the project. The field trials and the production of the remaining two UX-1 robots were at the core of the agenda.

The above-mentioned points were largely introduced and discussed during the first day. The UNEXMIN project already underwent through two field trials (Kaatiala and Idrija) and results from the surveying of these mines is currently in development. The experience gained on both trials will allow the team to properly prepare for the surveys on the Urgeiriça (Portugal) and Ecton (UK) mines, where two and three robots will be used, respectivelly.

The production and assembly schedule of the next two UX-1 robots was also outlined in order to avoid any delays, that might hinder the project development. This was agreed by all partners that are involved in the construction of the robotic platform and work will follow inline with planned.

During the second day, and with the main issues to be discussed out of the way, the UNEXMIN partners had a more relaxing meeting. The future of UNEXMIN was discussed (next steps, what about the future, etc) and a mindmapping exercise, that will help to shape the future of UNEXMIN, was organised.

Now it is time to continue working in order to reach the UNEXMIN project’s objectives!