Tag Archives: MIT

Vale after ‘change agents’ to solve decarbonisation, circular economy, H&S challenges

Vale is teaming up with the MIT Professional Education, MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, SENAI CIMATEC and start-up accelerator The Bakery to help solve challenges related to decarbonisation, the circular economy, and health and safety.

The MINE (Mining Innovation for a New Environment) program is offering 30 professionals the opportunity to help develop and build the future of mining – safer, more sustainable, and more efficient – through open innovation, Vale said.

Applications for the MINE Program 2.0 edition are being accepted from February 5.

“The MINE Program seeks to solve Vale’s strategic problems, develop people and generate a positive impact on society,” it said. “For nine months, between April and December, participants will develop solutions to solve 10 current challenges of the company in the areas of decarbonisation, circular economy, and health and safety.”

These topics were chosen due to their importance to Vale’s strategy of being recognised as a reference in safety, a leader in low-carbon mining and a company that creates and shares value. Fostering development in these fields has the potential to generate a positive impact for society, as they are relevant for everyone and not just for the company, Vale said.

Alexandre Salomão, Manager of PowerShift, a decarbonisation program at Vale, said: “MINE Program was designed to make us rethink the way we work, combining talent, technology and knowledge to solve the biggest mining challenges.”

Marcos Calderon, from Vale’s Open Innovation team, added: “Our goal is to invite the external public to contribute to overcoming global obstacles, forming agents of change capable of helping us to build the mining of the future.”

Vale is responsible for selecting the challenges, mentoring and technical monitoring of the proposed solutions, opening its operations to collaboration from external participants and financing scholarships. Faculty and researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have designed and developed the program content; SENAI CIMATEC will support and tutor the participants, while the Bakery will be responsible for accelerating the challenges.

To apply for the program it is necessary to have an agile and entrepreneurial mindset, technical knowledge in the area of the challenge, be fluent in English and have a college degree in any subject, Vale said.

“The program is looking for innovative people who know how to work collaboratively to solve problems based on new ideas and approaches,” it added. “The participants must not have any employment commitments, since they will be receiving scholarships in order to be dedicated exclusively to the program.”

The first edition of the MINE Program (pictured before the COVID-19 pandemic) was held between November 2019 and June 2020. Ten challenges were solved in the areas of digital transformation and decarbonisation. Solutions that prove to be viable in the 2.0 edition may be implemented in Vale’s operation.

SpacEarth addresses mine collapse risk with Mines-In-Time

The EIT RawMaterials supported start-up, SpacEarth Technology, has developed a new automated solution for real-time monitoring of ground displacements in mining to increase workers’ safety as well as mining asset integrity, EIT said.

Mines-In-Time (MIT) is designed to monitor rock mass during mining operations and is integrated in a traffic-light decision support system (DSS) to avoid risks and cost related with mine collapses, EIT said.

The solution has been validated in relevant environments on the micro-seismicity data recorded at Boliden’s Garpenberg mine, in Sweden, one of the world’s most productive and automated underground zinc mines, currently mining at 1,250 m depth.

The Mines-In-Time solution addresses the following:

  • Control ground deformations and stress alteration of the rock mass during mining operations;
  • Improved safety during mining operations; and
  • Enabling real-time autonomous decision-making systems.

Based on the four dimensions Local Earthquake Tomography (4D LET) methodology, Mines-In-Time is able to analyse both natural and induced micro-seismicity from mining operations, according to EIT.

“This technique is an unparalleled upgrade of the traditional ambient noise analysis and time-lapse 3D LET, since the addition of the fourth dimension (time) allows real-time monitoring of ground deformation related to the stress variation, and provides an instant alert in case of risky conditions, using data provided by the existing networks of seismographs already installed in most of the mining sites (no extra hardware to be installed),” EIT said.

For this reason, MIT is the only DSS and early warning system for mining able to dynamically forecast rock deformations and provide an alert in case of critical conditions, according to EIT.

Mining companies and service providers will benefit from a reduction of health and safety risks of personnel involved in underground works and reduction of economic losses due to collapses and failures, according to EIT.

It will also improve planning and scheduling of mining and maintenance operations, saving costs associated with inspections, analysis and monitoring, estimated in the order of 30% with respect to current practices.

SpacEarth Technology, a spin-off of the Italian Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), was founded in 2014 and supported by the EIT RawMaterials Booster to develop applications for the mining industry.

SpacEarth has direct connections with mining companies (Bolden and LKAB), service providers (DMT and IMS), and the Luleå University of Technology, all of which are tied to working on seismic hazards in mines.

It was initially supported by the EIT RawMaterials Start-up and SME Booster 2016 and 2017.

“The EIT RawMaterials Booster supported the delivery of a market study for the mining sector including direct contacts with client prospects,” EIT said. “As a result, the company achieved a higher technology level, and this boosted the technology attractiveness from the industry.”

Mines-In-Time will be further validated in 2020 thanks to a recently established contract between SpacEarth and Boliden.

Savka Dineva, Professor, Luleå University of Technology, said: “The seismic hazard in the mines is strongly related to the stress changes and the condition of the rock mass (fracturing process with time). That is why monitoring of these two factors is important to foresee the changes in the seismic hazard. MIT is a valuable tool that could give important information about the changing stress and rock conditions – it can be used for large volumes.”