Objectives

¡VAMOS! Focus and specific objectives

¡VAMOS! will enable access to high grade EU reserves of deeper seated minerals by providing a new Safe, Clean and Low Visibility Mining Technique and will prove the Environmental and Economic Viability of extracting currently unreachable mineral deposits, thus encouraging investment and helping to safeguard the EU access to strategically important minerals. The ¡VAMOS! mining technique will enable: Re-opening abandoned mines; Extensions of opencut mines which are limited by stripping ratio, hydrological or geotechnical problems; and opening of new mines with limited environmental impacts in the EU.

Mine extension potential

Driven by the safety requirements of the mining industry and the environmental concerns of the general public regarding mining wastes and large tailings, ¡VAMOS! will develop a novel automated solution for exploration, extraction and pre-processing of ores found in inland flooded mines or in shallow sea waters, and will engage with all stakeholders to achieve environmental, economically and socially acceptable solutions to enable the exploitation of EU’s inland submerged mineral deposits.

Conventional mining requires high dewatering and treatment costs
Mineralised Zone
Overburden
Economic boundary for conventional opencast mining
Conventional mining requires removal of large waste volumes
Steeper side walls and ultra-low stripping ratio possible with submerged mining
Remaining ore body accessible by submerged mining methods. Material is pumped to surface as slurry

Key research and innovation objectives of ¡VAMOS!:

To develop a prototype underwater, remotely controlled, mining system with
associated launch and recovery equipment and with the following sub-objectives

  • Develop and demonstrate the applicability of a remotely operated mining machine for submerged inland applications.
    • Develop and test new cutting technology in real submerged inland mining conditions.
      • Develop and test innovative slurry transportation, floating winch technology, and novel launch/recovery/hose and cable layout systems.
        • Develop and test innovative slurry transportation, floating winch technology, and novel launch/recovery/hose and cable layout systems.

        To develop new, adapt and advance existing and finally integrate a set of technologies to
        overcome the limitations of currently available underwater sensing, spatial awareness,
        navigational and positioning technology in order to enable safe and reliable operation of the
        equipment in an enclosed and noisy mine environment – low visibility mining concept. In particular:

        • Develop underwater positioning technology to overcome current limitations of the use of acoustic underwater positioning systems.
          • Develop augmented reality representation of the mining environment to enable the required level of pilot awareness.
            • Develop a hybrid AUV/ROV technology to allow the perception of occluded mine areas and the observation and navigation of the mining machine, and the supervision of tool changing.
              • Develop a real time grade control capability.

              To provide an integrated solution for efficient real-time monitoring of environmental impacts

            To conduct field trials with the prototype equipment in abandoned and inactive mine sites with a range of rock types and at a range of submerged depths

          To evaluate the environmental performance, the economic feasibility, productivity and cost of operation

          • Environmental impacts assessment
            • Macro-economic feasibility
              • Micro-economic feasibility

              To maximize positive social and economic impacts and enable the market up-take of ¡VAMOS! solutions by defining
              and overcoming the practicalities of the concept, proving the operational feasibility and
              the economic viability of the proposed technique

            To contribute to social acceptance of the new extraction technique via public demonstrations
            in different EU regions, combined with public outreach and dissemination on new mining alternatives.

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