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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Sonic On-Line Sampling Analysis - Automated mineralogy and chemistry Analysis

Objectives of the commitment

This 4-years-project aims to develop innovative “expert system” for rapid and reliable borehole and core data acquisition on mine sites. It pools together industrial and academic knowledge and technologies from 3 sectors, mining, instrumentation and databases, including 8 partners and 4 European countries in order to optimize mining and processing. Our “expert system” includes (1) Wire line coring and automatic rod manipulation adapted to any rock type prospection and developing probes for borehole areas and borehole to borehole scans; (2) automated on-line mineralogical and chemical Infra-red, Raman and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopies, and X-ray diffraction, combining hardware and software designs and developments based on scientific algorithms. This adds value through process speed-up and perfect adaptation to the alternation of weathered and fresh rocks, resulting in more extensive and efficient drilling campaigns. This allows appropriate mining technique choice and anticipation of dysfunction during metallurgical processing, resulting in increased competitiveness.

Description of the activities

The innovative approach of this project consists of combining hardware, database and software developments and validation based on scientific algorithms to build one expert system. Each country contributes with complementary know-how and technologies which were previously dissociated. It relies on the consortium combining 3 domains: (1) Exploration and mining represented by ERAMET (F), BRGM (F), SSD (NL); (2) Instrumentation by INEL (F); (3) database creation and data mining by IBT-Vilnius University (L), Trento-TN and Verona-VR Universities (I), CRISTMAT-Caen University (F). The consortium will involve knowledge transfer through PhD students and post-docs. This expert system aims to integrate physical, mineralogical and chemical data from the drilling to the processing stage.
The Sonic drilling technique promising in prospection and characterization of ore-deposit, needs to be developed for providing good quality drill cores in particular on alternating soft and hard rocks. This includes (1) wire line sampling and coring with automatic rod handler, (2) development of samplers and core barrels including several different coring shoes, allowing media injections for cooling the bit and flushing the cuttings, (3) adapting the drilling and flushing parameters to rock resistance and optimizing parameters for the typical recovery of the sample below the rock boulder, (4) optimization parameters, method pollsters and industrial organization, (5) Monitoring while drilling (MWD) for determination of geotechnical characteristics of the rock samples, (6) providing core samples allowing in-field analysis without destruction of the samples, (7) coupling data (sample, sensor, general mine data) to drone operated remote sensing systems.
Portable instruments for mineralogical and chemical analyses are non-destructive and rapid methods applied to drill cores, out-crops and raw materials, reduce analysis time and cost and increase mining productivity. On-line spectral analyses in visible to short-wave infrared, developed in Australia, were additionally equipped with Raman spectroscopy. MOLS in Finland provides a mobile geochemical lab for the Nordic market.
However, automated on-mine characterization is still in its beginning state and developments in methodologies and data mining are requested. Furthermore the combination of morphological, mineralogical and chemical information obtained from the different analytical methods IR, Raman, XRD, XRF in the same database allows a more reliable characterization and quantification of rock composition. High volumes of data will be generated and new fundamental approaches for an “intelligent” software design which allows efficient data mining and interpretation are needed.
The following work packages and tasks of each partner are proposed:
1- Defining needs, specifications of the instruments and its on-line arrangement (ERAMET-SSD-BRGM-INEL);
2- Developing the drilling equipment with core sampling and rheological analysis (SSD);
3- Hardware design and integration, prototyping the combination of 4 kinds of measurements and instrumentation (INEL-BRGM-ERAMET);
4- Designing software for driving and automated analyses (UNITN-UNIVR-CRISMAT-IBT-INEL-BRGM);
5- Set-up of the mineralogical database for specific ores, testing and validating the analyses for each instrument (ERAMET-BRGM-CRISMAT-IBT-INEL-UNITN-UNIVR);
6- Designing intelligence software for automated data treatment (UNITN-UNIVR-CRISMAT-IBT);
7- Testing and validating of the on-line instrument in lab and on mine sites (ALL);
8- Developing market strategies (ALL).

Description of the expected impacts

The expected impacts are:
• Increase the sample quality recovery rate, depth and productivity, during exploration and operation;
• Anticipation of mining and processing constraints thus increasing the productivity;
• Reduction of costs and delays in exploration and processing;
• Increase the process efficiency (including water and energy consumption) and the valorization of mineral resources responding to sustainable development;
• Add value through reducing the quantities of mine tailings;
• Push Europe at the forefront in the sector of technologies and related services;
• More efficient mining brings minerals and metals for our growing population using our natural resources in a sustainable way;
• More profit makes it possible to start rehabilitation from the very beginning, which brings social acceptance, less downtime, less pollution and a better image of the mining industry;
• Can be transferred and available to EU stakeholders and subsidiaries located in other countries;
• The platform for automated on-line drilling, mineralogical and chemical analyses and monitoring system will be the first in Europe.
• Opening a real breakthrough towards integration and combination of characterization technique from experiments to software levels.
• Demonstrating the Scientific Open Data Basis necessity for industrial value-addition.
• Knowledge transfer and education for young scientists (PhD’s, Post-Docs) add value to the future generation, particularly thanks to interdisciplinary educational and research experiences.

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: ERAMET GroupCountry: FranceEntity profile: Private sector - large companyRole within the commitment:

ERAMET, owner of Ni, Mn and poly-metallic mines (New Caledonia, Indonesia, Gabon), gives access to: complex rheological–lithological ore deposits to develop sonic drilling and monitoring geophysical parameters while drilling, comprehensive drill-core materials (ores, host rocks) and existing mineral and chemical databases.
ERAMET will develop new databases in cooperation with BRGM, involving PhD students, and validate the new expert system.

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.


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.


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.


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: Yes

Period to implement the commitment: from 01-05-2015 to 30-04-2019