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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Fully automated mineral winning process/system including near-to-face processing and backfilling for deep metal mines

Objectives of the commitment

Objective of the project is to establish a pilot installation of an integrated minerals extraction/processing process for deep metal mines which will base on developments of innovative methods, technologies, machines and equipment for mining at great depths. The development work is envisaged to be carried out mainly in the frame of I²Mine and I²Mine-2 as well as in the frame of the Swedish “Smart Mine of the Future” study. The installation should comprise (among other things):

• Systems for characterising resources in terms of geometallurgy and rock mechanics linked and fully utilised in production planning, mining and processing
• Autonomous, highly selective mineral extraction processes and machinery continuously exploiting deposits in greater depths
• New near-to-face pre-concentration and processing methods including fully automated backfilling based on very low content ore
• and more

Description of the activities

When looking for new mineral resources mining operations will go deeper and deeper. It may create problems with rock stability and temperature, risks of structural collapse or rock and occurrence of seismic events. There will be a need for safer operations underground, less direct human activity in harsh working conditions. The solution is new extraction technology based on remote steering and sensing, wide use of IT and robotics use in mining operations. The next opportunity is integrating some processing operation in underground operation by using sensors and on line monitoring of quality extracted ore (run-of-mine ore) and separating metal low content ore before hoisting and processing. This separated barren rock can be used as backfill. The new solutions in hard advanced materials give opportunity to use special tools to break hard metal rock without using explosives. The whole spectrum of novel technologies should be supported by new solutions in mine infrastructure including modelling of technological operations, data transmission, communication, logistics and transport.
The foreseen installation will apply achievements obtained in the frame of the I²Mine and I²Mine-2 projects as well as from the Swedish “Smart Mine of the Future” studies:

• Integrated minerals extraction/processing process for deep metal mines
• Innovative methods, technologies, machines and equipment for mining at great depths
• Autonomous, highly selective mineral extraction processes and machinery continuously exploiting deposits in greater depths
• New near-to-face pre-concentration and processing methods including fully automated backfilling based on very low content ore
• Systems for characterising resources in terms of geometallurgy and rock mechanics linked and fully utilised in production planning, mining and processing
• High ore recovery mining processes and decreased ore dilution
• Systems for improvement of the fragmentation chain (“Mine to Mill chain”)
• Systems for fully automated mine process control
• New systems for rock mechanics and ground control at great depth under static and dynamic loading conditions as well as squeezing and seismic conditions
• Environmental management system applying the principle of metallurgical accounting
• Increase safety in mining operations by eliminating fatalities to zero/year, improving health and safety issues and work environment;
• Attractive workplace for an innovative, efficient and competitive mining culture based on lean mining by focusing on work environment, health and safety issues
• Training programmes and tools to ensure availability of skilled staff (expertise) in mining
• An attractive facility for demonstration and marketing the modern/future deep mine as a green, safe and attractive working place to decision makers, the society at large and students and researchers

The technological challenges of all developments are to make them fit for underground use in the expected harsh environment of below 1,500 m. The reliable stabilisation of the surrounding rock formations will be one of the biggest challenges in such depths.

Description of the expected impacts

Technical impacts:
• Providing Europe with innovative, world-class technology for minerals exploitation in deep future mines
• Realising fully automated and online monitored mining and mineral processing operations
• Cross-sector collaboration providing for wide use of advanced materials, IT processes, embedded systems innovations, etc. assisting next generation equipment and tools

Economic impacts:
• Deeply located deposits can be mined and processed in eco-efficient and safe way
• Constant and stable supply of copper, silver and other metals for the European economy
• Achieving higher recoveries and less waste and dilution
• Improvement of self-sufficiency in some critical minerals and metals
• Improvement of resource efficiency in case of metals
• Strengthening the position of European equipment suppliers
• Strengthening international and interdisciplinary cooperation, both in the technical and socio-economical field

Environmental impacts:
• Less energy use, waste deployed underground (to a large extent)
• Processing technologies located underground
• Less pollutant emissions in and from the mine
• Further step towards the “invisible, zero-impact mine” concept
• Less land use for mining installations

Societal impacts:
• Improvement of the image of the mining industry
• Less problems with access to space in densely populated areas
• Mining becomes more attractive
• Mining will create more and better jobs and attract more young people to start a career in mining

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: Mineral Industry Research Organisation - MIROCountry: United KingdomEntity profile: Private sector - SMERole within the commitment:

Project management, communication, promotion, dissemination

Other partners

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V.

Name of the organisation: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V. Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Fraunhofer will lead the CFRP and GFRP recycling research.
Fraunhofer will perform corrosion tests on the developed materials.
Fraunhofer will work with CIDAUT on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project. Fraunhofer is the Quality Manager of the Consortium and will oversee deliverables and general reporting are produced with the best possible quality following agreed review standards.

Fundacion Cidaut

Name of the organisation: Fundacion Cidaut Country: Spain Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: CIDAUT will lead the research activities on materials recycling and compounding, implementing lab scale demonstrators of each process at its premises and, later, supporting end-users upscale the processes.
CIDAUT will perform mechanical tests, microstructural analyses, injection moulding capability studies on the developed materails, and will work with Fraunhofer on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project.

RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV)

Name of the organisation: RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV) Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: RWTH will implement the novel 3D Generative Preforming process (3D Fibre Spraying) that enables to create high-value long fibre-reinforced 3D preforms for thermoplastic and thermoset composites at low process costs (different kinds of yarn as a raw material, low tooling costs due to low cavity pressures). This cost effective technology allows to align the sprayed fibres in order to produce high-performance, engineered anisotropic products.

Universita' di Cagliari

Name of the organisation: Universita' di Cagliari Country: Italy Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: University of Cagliari is one of the leading European organization in the resin design and coupling with thermoplastic and thermose materials. University of Cagliari will support in the definition of the composite materials, both from CFRP/GFRP, ABS and Rare Earth composite material.

Relight

Name of the organisation: Relight Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: RELIGHT will work with ITRB to provide the research partners with residues for the recycled ABS supply and the REE recovery processes, including their HydroWEEE process as part of the processes to be studied and analyzed.

Piaggio Aerospace

Name of the organisation: Piaggio Aerospace Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: Piaggio Aerospace is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Piaggio will assist in the compounds selection, provide Fraunhofer with specific corrosion requirements on business jet size aircraft, and will assess that the developed materials performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

Blackshape Aircrafts

Name of the organisation: Blackshape Aircrafts Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: Blackshape Aircrafts is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Blackshape will support to fulfill the requirements of the aeronautics industry on ultra light jet, light jet and trainer for Syllabus, and will assess that the developed alloys performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

KU Leuven

Name of the organisation: KU Leuven Country: Belgium Entity profile: Academia
Role within the commitment: KUL will collaborate on the balance problem studies and will lead the rare earth recovery research with the solvometallurgical and ionometallurgical processes.
KUL will also contribute to the final compounding selection.
KUL is the Dissemination Manager of the project, promoting that all partners are active on the project Dissemination.

FIDAMC

Name of the organisation: FIDAMC Country: Spain Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: FIDAMC is going to lead the Work Package on Compression Moulding with CFRP-enhanced materials. As part of the AIRBUS Group, FIDAMC will also be able to provide the input material.
FIDAMC successfully developed a 3D Printer of own design to serve the Aerospace Industry and will be supporting Smart Lab 3D Industries in its 3D printer design.

COMPOSITE INNOVATION CENTER

Name of the organisation: COMPOSITE INNOVATION CENTER Country: Canada Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Composite Innovation Center is one of the world leading organization in the field of Composite materials, both from carbon fiber and vegetal-based fibers.
Composite Innovation center has successfully implemented, at lab-scale, recycling processes for CFRP and GFRP.

Existing EU Contribution: No

Period to implement the commitment: from 01-07-2017 to 31-12-2020