The X-MINE project supports better resource characterization and estimation as well as more efficient ore extraction in existing mine operations, making the mining of smaller and complex deposits economically feasible and increasing potential European mineral resources (specifically in the context of critical raw materials) without generating adverse environmental impact. The project will implement large-scale demonstrators of novel sensing technologies improving the efficiency and sustainability of mining operations based on X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), X-Ray Transmission (XRT) technologies, 3D vision and their integration with mineral sorting equipment and mine planning software systems. The project will deploy these technologies in 4 existing mining operations in Sweden, Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus. The sites have been chosen to illustrate different sizes (from small-scale to large-scale) and different target minerals (zinc-lead-silver-gold, copper-gold, gold) including the presence of associated critical metals such as indium, gallium, germanium, platinum group metals and rare earth elements. The pilots will be evaluated in the context of scientific, technical, socio-economic, lifecycle, health and safety performances. The sensing technologies developed in the project will improve exploration and extraction efficiency, resulting in less blasting required for mining. The technologies will also enable more efficient and automated mineral-selectivity at extraction stage, improving ore pre-concentration options and resulting in lower use of energy, water, chemicals and men hours (worker exposure) during downstream processing. The consortium includes 6 industrial suppliers, 4 research/academic organizations, 4 mining companies and 1 mining association. The project has a duration of 51 months and a requested EC contribution of €9.3M.
New environmental, economic and societal requirements in the EU’s transition to a low-carbon and digital economy call for innovative methods, technologies and techniques to be developed and applied in mineral exploration. To unlock the CRM potential in Europe, AGEMERA will conduct local state-of-art geological and geophysical surveys over a total of ~4,700 km2 in order to detailly map CRM resources in 6 EU countries and 1 third country (Zambia). The geophysical field trial surveys will demonstrate three novel non-invasive survey methods (at up to a TRL5) based on remote sensing and related data analysis: 1) passive seismic methods, 2) multi-sensing drone system combining magnetic, radiometric and electromagnetic sensing, and 3) muon-based multidetector density detection system. The project will use data from open-access databases (e.g., European Geological Data Infrastructure, EGDI), the data collected from the field by project geoscientists, and various geophysical survey methods to refine and improve the genetic mineral system models of the various deposit types known to contain lithium, cobalt, molybdenum, vanadium, PGMs, niobium, tantalum, bauxite and REE. The project will introduce the existing guidance for the application of UNFC for mineral resources to the partner countries through stakeholders, courses and public events. The project will survey citizens in the project countries, create a CRM educational package targeting schools and universities, publish an online CRM serious game, organise public events, as well as online news flashes, with the aim to reach 5,000,000 citizens by 2030. The project will create an open-access SoftGIS analysis and database on people’s social, cultural, environmental and economic concerns related to mining and mineral exploration. These data enable the creation of socio-economic potential maps to be used in parallel with the geological potential maps, consequently ensuring a basis for socially accepted and sustainable mining.