UNEXUP Project Overview

Making the exploration of flooded mines a reality

The UNEXUP project, funded under EIT Raw Materials, is a direct continuation of the Horizon 2020 UNEXMIN project. While in UNEXMIN efforts were made towards the design, preparation and testing of an innovative exploration technology for underground flooded mines, in UNEXUP the main goal is to launch the UNEXMIN technology into the market, while further improving the system’s hardware, software and capabilities. A real service-to-client approach will be demonstrated, supporting mineral exploration and mine surveying efforts in Europe with unique data from flooded environments that cannot be obtained without high costs, or risks to human lives.

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-contact surveying 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 geological, mineralogical and topological 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.

On the technical side, a fourth robot will be added to the current multi-robot platform, providing additional functionalities to the exploration system, including better range and depth performance. Hardware and software upgrades, as well as new capabilities delivered by the platform are also envisaged for the current and new UX entries, which will greatly extend the usefulness of the platform in different situations. Among these: better data acquisition and management, further downsizing, extended ranging capabilities, improved self-awareness and decision making, matured post-processing (such as the deployment of 3D virtual reality models) and interaction with the data will be targeted during the next years. Upgrading the overall technology with these tools, and possibly additional ones, will allow the system to operate with more reliability and security, with reduced costs.

These added functions arise from different stakeholders’ feedbacks from the UNEXMIN project. UNEXUP targets stakeholders from the mining, robotics and mineral exploration sectors, as well as all other sectors that have any kind of underwater structure that needs to be surveyed – caves and fisheries are among them.

Project details:

  • Project starting date: 1 February 2020
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Output: A new raw materials exploration/mine mapping service for underground flooded mines and other underwater environments