Tag Archives: Horizon 2020

Retenua’s RefleX machine vision tech set to go underground in EU-backed project

An EU-backed project looking to tap into the full potential of the ‘digital mine’ goes live this month, with Retenua’s AI-driven RefleX™ machine vision technology set to be further optimised, adapted and tested as part of the scope.

The illuMINEation project under the European Union-backed Horizon 2020 has a budget of €8.9 million ($10.5 million) and is looking to embed digital thinking into the heart of the mining sector by improving digital skills of mining personnel and enhancing the cooperation along the entire digital mining value chain, according to Retenua.

“Europe urgently needs to reduce its import dependency in respect to a multitude of raw materials,” it said. “In order to do so, Europe’s mining industry must completely redesign the process of traditional mining via the adoption of pioneering innovations and extensive use of data analytics.”

The illuMINEation project will highlight significant aspects of digitalisation in underground mining activities with the core objective of improving the efficiency as well as health and safety of European mining operations and its personnel, Retenua said, with RefleX set to be one technology to undergo testing.

In the scope of IlluMINEation research project, RefleX will be employed in demanding underground mining environments. The core technology of Retenua’s product line emitrace®, RefleX includes both embedded infrared stereo vision hardware and smart algorithms for detecting and tracking workers and equipment from mobile heavy machinery.

The ability to reliably detect worksite personnel and selected infrastructure in the vicinity of vehicles not only in good daylight conditions but also in poorly illuminated environments makes Retenua’s solution highly suitable for use both above and below ground, the company says.

The technology evaluation and customisation will be primarily carried out in collaboration with project partner Epiroc Rock Drills AB and represent an important step towards improved safety standards in mining operations, Retenua said.

The multidisciplinary project consortium within illuMINEation consists of 19 partners from six European countries, constituting a well-balanced assembly of world leading industrial and academic players from a multitude of technical fields and applications, it added.

This includes Montanuniversitaet Leoben, Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft MBH, Epiroc Rock Drills AB, ams AG, KGHM Cuprum sp zoo, DMT GmbH & CO KG, GEOTEKO Serwis Sp zoo, Lulea Tekniska University, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, KGHM Polska Miedz SA, Minera de Orgiva SL, RHI Magnesita GmbH, DSI Underground Austria GmbH, Retenua AB, IMA Engineering Ltd Oy, Fundacion Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Worldsensing SL, Instytut Chemii Bioorganiczney Polskiej Akademii Nauk and Boliden Mineral AB.

CyanoGuard receives EU, investor backing for next gen cyanide monitoring solution

Switzerland-based chemtech startup CyanoGuard has completed a fundraising and been awarded a non-dilutive SME Instrument grant by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program that, it says, will speed up market penetration and develop further applications for its next generation cyanide monitoring solutions.

Established in 2016, CyanoGuard has since developed and commercialised its solutions for gold mining operations, food safety testing and healthcare.

Co-Founders Benedikt Kirchgässler (CEO) and Mathias Cherbuin (CTO) transformed a chemical technology for rapid toxin detection from the labs of the University of Zurich into a “comprehensive digital solution package” that has found its first commercial application in the gold mining industry.

The company has now raised more than CHF3 million ($3.12 million) to help further develop the technology, which CyanoGuard says can minimise cyanide consumption by 12% while maximising extraction efficiency through real-time, instaneous measurement results.

Kirchgässler said: “These funds enable us to scale our ground-breaking monitoring solutions and roll them out to gold mines around the world.

“I am excited about the positive impact that our digital, artificial intelligence-based technology has on the global gold mining industry as well as the local communities and the environment.

“I believe that we will benefit from both the experience of leading venture funds…as well as the support of the European Union to speed up market penetration and develop further applications for our technology.”

With the newly raised capital from this seed round, CyanoGuard plans to accelerate its go-to-market strategy in the global mining industry.

Alex Stöckl, Founding Partner at Wingman Ventures, who has joined CyanoGuard’s Board of Directors following the funding round, added: “With its current offering, CyanoGuard has a unique value proposition for its mining clients that is beyond improved cyanide testing. This encompasses an efficiency-enhancing digitisation of process control and a more sustainable usage of cyanide in mining operations.

“We are convinced that Benedikt, Mathias and their team will drive CyanoGuard to become a globally leading provider of digital mining solutions.”

The freshly obtained funds are also intended to further expedite the development of CyanoGuard’s product offering for food safety and healthcare applications, the company said.

Smart Exploration team ready to show off their work to Toronto crowd

The team behind the EU Horizon 2020-backed Smart Exploration project says it is ready to introduce its prototypes and software to the market.

It said project representatives are getting ready for a Canada tour to present the results and innovative solutions they have come up with over the last two years to potential stakeholders and end-users.

The Smart Exploration project develops cost-effective, environmentally friendly tools and methods for geophysical exploration in highly challenging brownfield and greenfield areas to address ever-increasing community and environmental issues, as well as reduce the return time on investments, it says. It officially begun on December 1, 2017, and is due to conclude on December 1, 2020.

Since the inception of the project, the 27 partners comprising the project consortium have worked together to meet the challenging task of developing solutions for deep mineral exploration, the partners said. The solutions have been tested and validated under diverse mining conditions (surface, underground, open pit, brownfield, greenfield) over six test sites in Europe, it says.

Even though these solutions are developed for mineral exploration purposes, they have cross- and multi-disciplinary applications and can be used by other industries, the partners said.

To highlight the project’s advances, project representatives will be present at three events in Toronto, Canada, in February and March. This includes the Toronto MERC-Smart Exploration Workshop on Novel Seismics and Electromagnetic Methods for Mineral Exploration (February 27), the Toronto Special EAGE session at the KEGS 2020 PDAC Symposium (February 29) and the annual PDAC convention on March 1-4.

Smart Exploration has developed six software (methodologies) and five prototypes throughout the project lifetime, resulting in a complete package of solutions for deep mineral exploration, it says.

Its software includes:

  • Three-dimensional frequency and time-domain electromagnetic modelling;
  • Thin-sheet time domain modelling and IP responses;
  • New solutions for near-surface problems and related deeper imaging improvements;
  • Generation of additional data from sparse active-source data with lower environmental impact; and
  • Scattering/diffractivity imaging for improved resolution depth imaging.

Three out of five prototypes have been validated and will launch in Canada, the partners said. This includes a GPS-time synchronisation system for denied environments such as underground mines; an electromagnetic broadband frequency seismic source (E-Vib, pictured); and a deep-probing time-domain electromagnetic helicopter-based system (HTEM).

The other two prototypes in the last phase of development are a slim hole modular system for mining boreholes and a UAV-Mag-EM for quickly obtaining data over difficult terrains.

Several presentations will be given during the events and the three validated prototypes will be showcased during the PDAC convention at the EU booth, the partners said.

Outotec looks to strike the right water balance with Pretium platform

Outotec has launched a new real-time water monitoring tool to enable miners to simulate and evaluate proposed water-treatment investments and process changes, and keep tabs on water use across their operations.

As the company says, water is a scarce and valuable resource, and mining operations are under increasing pressure to optimise their water usage in order to improve environmental and economic performance.

Outotec Pretium Water Advisor enables real-time monitoring of the water balance across an entire site, allowing operators to create short-term forecasts for water volume and quality, it said.

The platform predicts changes in water balance and quality based on changing production and environmental conditions. This enables simulation and evaluation of proposed water-treatment investments and process changes.

“The solution combines intelligent water measurement stations and instrumentation with Outotec’s predictive water balance computing to eliminate the need to rely on time-consuming manual water-balance and key performance indicator (KPI) calculations,” Outotec said.

Plant managers and engineers can view water KPIs as both graphical views and historical trends via a web-based interface and also access scenario management tools for performing simulations and evaluating the impacts of new water treatment investments, process changes, or the impact of expansion plans on the site’s water resources, the company said.

“Water Advisor monitoring stations provide accurate and reliable real-time data on both environmental and process waters, and are designed to perform reliably in harsh environments even under constant exposure to rain, humidity, dust, frost, and sun,” the company said. “Stations can be easily connected to the Outotec technical platform for data collection, processing, visualisation, and device management.”

Outotec Pretium Water Advisor has been commercialised with the help of funding from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, a body of the European Union, under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Epiroc books battery-electric orders from mines in Finland, Australia and Canada

Epiroc says it has recently secured orders for its second generation battery-electric machines from miners in Finland, Australia and Canada.

The orders come less than a year since the mining original equipment manufacturer launched the new range at an event in Örebro, Sweden.

In Finland in the September quarter, Agnico Eagle Mines ordered the Boltec E Battery rig for use at its Kittilä mine, Europe’s biggest gold operation.

The company, as part of the EU-led Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems (SIMS) project where Epiroc is serving as a coordinator, has also been testing Epiroc battery-electric equipment. A Boomer E2 Battery has been operating for some months at the mine and, in August, a Minetruck MT42 Battery (42 t truck) and a Scooptram ST14 Battery (14 t LHD) arrived as part of the project.

Jari Kolehmainen, Production Manager at Agnico Eagle Mines, said the Boomer E2 Battery had been performing well and a diesel engine had not “been missed”.

He continued: “Operator feedback has been positive and we are looking forward to expanding our fleet with more electrical powered equipment in the near future. Therefore we are also very excited to be testing the battery-powered mine truck and loader. These tests are giving us the confidence to be a successful early adopter of this new and exciting technology.”

In addition to the orders and testing at Kittilä, several orders from other companies have been booked in previous quarters for battery-electric versions of the Boltec rock bolting rig, Boomer face drilling rig, Scooptram loader and Minetruck hauler, the company said.

Epiroc, upon launching its second generation machines in November 2018, said it had clocked up more than 60,000 hours of operating time with these electric machines. It is being helped along the way by battery maker Northvolt and ABB. Epiroc has committed to its Batteries-as-a-service offering that sees the mining OEM provide a warranty for the battery and provide both software and hardware updates on an annual basis.

The company launched its first battery-electric machines in 2016, adding, in November 2018, 14 t and 18 t LHDs, a 42 t truck and a mid-sized drilling family including face drilling, production drilling and rock reinforcement rigs. Epiroc aims to be able to offer its complete fleet of underground mining equipment as battery-electric versions by 2025.

The benefits of this technology include improved health and safety, lower total cost of operation and higher productivity. The advantage is especially significant for deepening underground operations where mining companies traditionally must invest heavily in ventilation to air out the diesel fumes.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure, said: “We see very strong customer interest for our new battery-electric mining machines. The technology is now well established, and more and more mining companies are realising the significant benefits that come with using electric machines instead of diesel. We are proud to spearhead the mining industry’s drive toward a fossil-free future.”

New name and new speakers for MMH mining event in Seville

The international Mining and Minerals Hall (MMH), in Seville, Spain, has more than 70 speakers lined up for its next edition, taking place on October 15-17.

MMH 2019, taking place at the Seville Conference and Exhibition Centre (FIBES), is the third edition of the meeting. While it will keep the same format as the previous two events, this year’s MMH has changed focus. Previously named Metallic Mining Hall, the change is aimed at creating an inclusive meeting for the entire mining sector embracing sectors such as industrial minerals this time around.

The King, Don Felipe VI, Pedro Sánchez, President of the Government, and Juan Manuel Moreno, President of Junta de Andalucía, will be leading MMH’s Honorary Committee, which has devised an event that will attract participation from the main mining industries and representation from ancillary service companies. The exhibition area, which has been expanded since the last event in 2017, is to host more than 100 companies.

MMH has attracted a stellar list of speakers this time around, who will analyse the latest industry trends and share their experiences in the regional industry, which has recovered its role as one of the most important engines of the Andalusia economy.

As Javier Targhetta, CEO of the metallurgy company Atlantic Copper, and Commissioner of this new edition of MMH, said: “This evolution of the Hall can only be explained by the recovery of a sector which, in the last few years, has striven to find new ways and procedures to develop its activity efficiently and sustainably.”

Targhetta is right. In the two years since the last edition of MMH, the Riotinto copper mine has expanded, MATSA has ramped up its operations and, more recently, Cobre Las Cruces is considering a significant mine life extension through a new underground and pyrometallurgical project.

Targetta continued: “This is shown by the increase in the number of professionals from the different fields of mining who will participate in the scientific conference and will also enrich the knowledge of the conference attendants with their work, their experience and their innovative spirit.”

Sustainability and achieving a more sustainable, environmentally friendly mining industry will be a key theme of the conference, with roundtables such as ‘Competitiveness, sustainability and security of energy supply for mining and industry’ looking to confront the issue head on. This panel will see José Luis del Valle Doblado take on the chairman’s role, drawing on his experience as President of the MMH Scientific Committee and Chair of LAR ESPAÑA and WiZink.

The panel, ‘Circular economy opportunities for the mining industry’, meanwhile, will be moderated by Vicente Gutiérrez Peinador, General Manager of CONFEDEM, the National Mining Association of Spain. He will, no doubt, also have some thoughts to share on the sustainability panel given CONFEDEM recently became the fifth national mining association outside of Canada to adopt the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining® initiative.

Luis Montoto Rojo, Communications Director of Junta de Andalucía’s Taxation, Industry and Energy Department, will have his work cut out as moderator of a session titled, ‘Social licence to operate: mining industry management and its connection with society’. Miners in Andalucia, in recent years, have done well to win back the trust of local and regional communities following a tailings dam failure at the Los Frailes lead-zinc mine, in 1998, that damaged the two’s relationship. Expect to hear some examples of this positive engagement during the panel.

This is not all. The event program also includes presentations by José F Sánchez-Junco, CEO of explosives and blasting expert MAXAM, speaking on the subject, ‘Innovation and energetic materials in the mining operation’.

The Confederation of Rock and Industrial Mineral Extractive Industries (COMINROC) has played an integral role in organising the third edition of MMH, having signed an alliance with MMH and Congresos y Turismo de Sevilla (CONTURSA), the company managing the MMH venue, FIBES, back in March. Representing 10 sectors of the extractive industry, namely aggregates, lime, cement, industrial minerals, ornamental rock, clay, slate, magnesite, siliceous sand and gypsum, COMINROC’s participation was key in ensuring miners from these segments participated in this third edition. César Luaces Frades, Technical General Secretary of COMINROC, will present, ‘Extractive industry strategy for biodiversity: a key actor’, at the event.

Meanwhile, Glenn Orveillon, an expert in the circular economy and industrial leadership of the European Commission, will share his experience of working in the institution in a session titled, ‘Circular economy in the European Union’.

Atlantic Copper’s Targhetta will moderate a panel titled, ‘Present situation, threats and opportunities of metallic mining’, steering a stellar lineup of participants including Alberto Lavandeira, CEO of Atalaya Mining – the owner of the historic Riotinto copper mine – Audra Walsh, CEO of MATSA – the owner of three base and precious metal mines in Andalucia – Isabel Suárez Díaz, Secretary General of the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain, IGME; Juan Pedro Soler, CEO of Cobre Las Cruces – the only hydrometallurgical copper producer in Europe; and Mark Rachovides, President of Euromines.

The ‘Mining policies and investments’ panel will be moderated by Antonio García Muñoz, Managing Partner of Lener’s Mining Sector area; and ‘Biodiversity management in the extractive industry’ will be chaired by Lafarge Holcim España’s Pilar Gegúndez Cámara.

The following talks will also be given: ‘Raw materials and geopolitics’ by Isaac Querub, Co-Founder and Partner of Moka Consulting; and ‘Premises for the new Mining Strategy in Andalusia, starting point’, by Natalia González Herrera, Junta de Andalucía’s General Secretary of Industry, Energy and Mines.

Finally, several round tables will take a future view on the mining sector of Andalucia.

‘Challenges and opportunities in the rock and industrial mineral sector’ will be moderated by Aniceto Zaragoza Ramírez, General Manager of The Spanish Cement Association, OFICEMEN. Mining original equipment manufacturer Epiroc will be represented up on stage by José Manuel Sánchez Blanes, President of Drilling Solutions. He will moderate a panel titled, ‘Innovation and development in the mining industry: mining as a forward-looking project’. Given Epiroc’s investments in battery-electric and automated equipment for underground mines, he will have much to add here.

Horizon 2020, the European Union’s biggest research and innovation program ever with nearly €80 billion ($88 billion) of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020), will also be discussed during the conference. Lydia González, Spain’s representative in the program’s committee, CDTI, will present, ‘Research and innovation on raw materials in Horizon Europe, UE’s 9th Framework Programme 2021-2027’.

There will also be a series of workshops at the event to suit all participants needs.

To hear more about the event, visit the website here.

International Mining is a media sponsor of the third edition of MMH in Seville

EU-funded robotics project to confront underground mining challenges

The European Union (EU) has agreed to fund a project through its Horizon 2020 program looking into the development of a “bio-inspired, modular and reconfigurable robot-miner” for small and difficult to access underground mineral deposits.

The 48-month ROBOMINERS project held its kick-off meeting in Madrid, Spain, on June 13-14, 2019.

The project has been set up with the long-term strategic objective to facilitate EU access to raw materials – including those considered strategic or critical for the global energy transition – from domestic resources. This is all in an effort to decrease the EU’s import dependency.

ROBOMINERS’ approach combines the creation of a new mining ecosystem with novel ideas from other sectors, in particular the inclusion of disruptive concepts from robotics, the European Commission said.

“The use of the robot miner will especially be relevant for mineral deposits that are small or difficult to access,” it said. “This covers both abandoned, nowadays flooded mines, that are not accessible anymore for conventional mining techniques, or places that have formerly been explored but whose exploitation was considered as uneconomic due to the small size of the deposits or the difficulty to access them.”

Within the project duration, the consortium aims to:

  • Construct a fully functional modular robot miner prototype following a bio-inspired design, capable of operating, navigating and performing selective mining in a flooded underground environment;
  • Design a mining ecosystem of expected future upstream/downstream raw materials processes via simulations, modelling and virtual prototyping;
  • Validate all key functions of the robot-miner to a Technology Readiness Level 4, and;
  • Use the prototypes to study and advance future research challenges concerning scalability, resilience, re-configurability, self-repair, collective behaviour, operation in harsh environments, selective mining, production methods as well as for the necessary converging technologies on an overall mining ecosystem level.

Led by the Centre for Automation and Robotics of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and the Spanish National Research Council, ROBOMINERS will be implemented by a consortium of 14 partners from 11 EU countries, that covers a wide range specialities, consisting of geo-scientific SMEs, academics covering both mining and robotics, non-governmental organisations, and governmental bodies.

The European Federation of Geologists, which has a network of more than 45,000 geoscientists across Europe, will lead the dissemination and communication efforts within ROBOMINERS.

Boliden, Ericsson and Telia celebrate world first 5G underground mine network deployment

SIMS project partners Boliden and Ericsson, together with Telia, say they have deployed the world’s first 5G network using New Radio in an operational underground mine, the Boliden Kankberg mine in Sweden.

The deployment comes less than a month since Telia and Luleå University of Technology, in Sweden, inaugurated a 5G-testbed as part of its Wireless Innovation Arena project.

The Kankberg mine is located around 10 km west of the Boliden Area Operations process plant in Boliden, and produces gold and tellurium. The mine has been in production since 2012 and has since then increased the annual production capacity to around 450,000 t. In 2018, the mine produced 456,979 t grading 4.4 g/t Au, 10.7 g/t Ag and 188.3 g/t Te.

SIMS, or Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems, is part of the Horizon 2020 program, the biggest EU-backed research and innovation program ever with nearly €80 billion ($90.1 billion) of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020).

“Productivity and safety requirements are very high in the mining industry. This customer configured network can function standalone, allowing mining operations to continue even if communication is disrupted to the mine,” SIMS said.

The 5G technology is superior to other communication solutions for connectivity in demanding environments like mining and manufacturing where continuous operations and close monitoring of processes are required, according to SIMS. With characteristics like very low response times and the option for local data handling, 5G is the best suited technology to meet the safety and efficiency requirements of the mine, it added.

Magnus Frodigh, Head of Ericsson Research, said: “5G is designed to support industry automation and industrial IoT and will be a platform for innovation in industries. The Boliden underground mine is a great example of a sector with tough requirements that will benefit immediately. [This technology]…will ensure connectivity for applications with high performance requirements.”

Magnus Leonhardt, Head of Strategy and Innovation at Telia, said: “Industry 4.0 is becoming a reality. This is another good example of how 5G can be used to build networks adapted to the customer’s operations. To guarantee safety in the mine, for example, the network must function even if communications to the outside world is disrupted. Reliable communications can now be secured with the network we have built.”

Peter Burman, Program Manager at Boliden, said: “We work actively with robotisation to improve productivity and safety in the mine which requires future proof communication solutions. 5G is an important component enabling advanced automation and by that, a safer and more sustainable mine.”