In Europe, it is estimated that there are around 30,000 closed mine sites. Many of these still may have considerable amounts of essential raw materials. However, most of these closed mines are now flooded and the last piece of information of their status and layout is decades or more than a hundred years old. The complex underground layout, topology and geometry of most underground mines, make it impossible to do any surveying by conventional or remotely controlled equipment. One of these examples is the usage of human divers, which can prove unfruitful and even lethal in harsh deep mine conditions.
The specific purpose of UNEXUP is to commercially deploy a new raw materials exploration / mine mapping service based on a new class of mine explorer robots, for non-invasive assessment of Europe’s flooded mines. The inaccessibility of the operational environment makes autonomy a critical and primary objective of the project, which will present a substantial effort in resurveying mineral deposits in Europe where the major challenges are geological uncertainty and technological / economic feasibility of mine development. The robot’s ability to gather high-quality and high-resolution information from currently inaccessible mine sites will increase the knowledge of mineral deposits in Europe, whilst decreasing exploration costs – such as the number of deep exploration drills needed. This can potentially become a game changing exploration technology in the mining panorama, where the battle for resources is ever increasing.