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TOPIC : Raw materials innovation actions: exploration and Earth observation in support of sustainable mining

Topic identifier: SC5-10-2019-2020
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: IA Innovation action
Opening date:
14 November 2018
2nd stage Deadline:
19 February 2019 17:00:00
04 September 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Securing the sustainable access to raw materials, including metals, industrial minerals and construction raw materials, and particularly Critical Raw Materials (CRM), is of high importance for the EU economy.

The challenge for industry is to scale up promising raw materials production technologies, including for exploration, and to demonstrate that raw materials can be produced in an innovative and sustainable way in order to ensure that research and innovation end up on the market, to strengthen the competitiveness of the European raw materials industries, to meet the ambitious energy and climate targets for 2030, to minimise environmental impacts and risks and to gain the trust of EU citizens in the raw materials sector.

This specific challenge addresses the development of "innovative pilot actions"[1] which is one of the major targets of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials.


Actions should develop innovative pilots demonstrating clean and sustainable production, including exploration, of non-energy non-agricultural raw materials in the EU from primary and/or secondary sources, finishing at Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 6-7.

All actions should contribute to achieving the objectives and targets of the EIP on Raw Materials and to building the EU knowledge base of primary and secondary raw materials by feeding into the EC Raw Materials Information System – RMIS[2]. Actions should also contribute to improving the awareness of relevant external stakeholders and the general public across the EU about the importance of raw materials for society, the challenges related to their supply within the EU and about proposed solutions which could help to improve society's acceptance of and trust in sustainable raw materials production in the EU, duly taking into account the applicable EU environmental legislation.

All actions should facilitate the market uptake of solutions developed through industrially- and user-driven multidisciplinary consortia covering the relevant value chain, and consider standardisation aspects when relevant.

All proposals should justify the relevance of the selected pilot demonstrations in different locations within the EU (and also outside if there is a clear added value for the EU economy, industry and society).

All proposals should include an outline of the initial exploitation and business plans (with indicated CAPEX, OPEX, IRR and NPV[3]) with clarified management of intellectual property rights, and commitment to the first exploitation.

In support of the EIP on Raw Materials actions should envisage clustering activities with other relevant selected projects for cross-projects co-operation, consultations and joint activities on cross-cutting issues and share of results as well as participating in joint meetings and communication events. To this end proposals should foresee a dedicated work package and/or task, and earmark the appropriate resources accordingly.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged

Actions should address only one of the following sub-topics:

a) Integrated exploration solutions (2019): Actions should develop and demonstrate integrated exploration solutions focused on finding new deep land deposits. They could benefit from any of the advanced geological-geochemical-geophysical-remote sensing integrated (and multi-method) approaches, 3D and 4D modelling, automation and robotisation. Solutions should cover and be tested in both green and brown field mining sites.

b) Services and products for the extractive industries life cycle (2019): Actions should develop services and products based on Earth observation data and techniques and GNSS services for the extractive industries life cycle. The services and products should be built upon information and data made available by the Copernicus Programme, and other relevant Earth observation and proximal sensing data. Use of data made available by EGNOS (and in the long term, Galileo) or other relevant Earth GNSS data should be considered where relevant. Services should be developed and tested for any of the different phases of the mining life cycle: exploration, extraction, closure or post closure. Particular attention should be given to services for environmental monitoring (including metals dispersion) and safety and security monitoring associated with open pits (slopes stability/landslides risk), underground mining (e.g. subsidence) and mining waste disposal (e.g. tailings dams and dumps). Services to be developed should include the design and testing of early warning systems and associated monitoring plans to prevent and mitigate risks associated with extraction and mining waste disposal[4].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 8 million and EUR 13 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • pushing the EU to the forefront in the area of sustainable raw materials production technologies and solutions through generated know how (planned patents, publications in high impact journals and joint public-private publications etc.);
  • increasing the reserves of various primary raw materials within the EU;
  • where relevant, reducing the exploration costs for the industry through new cost-effective exploration technologies, while safeguarding long- and short-term environmental sustainability;
  • improving the resolution and interoperability of existing raw materials digital maps;
  • in the longer term, improving the competitiveness of and creating added value and new jobs in raw materials producing, equipment manufacturing, information and communication technologies and/or downstream industries;
  • additionally, only for b) 'Services and products for the extractive industries life cycle', improved validation of global Copernicus land use and land cover products, enhancing the market uptake of the Copernicus based services and products for mining lifecycle, as well as its synergetic use with GNSS.
Delegation Exception Footnote:

It is expected that this topic will continue in 2020.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

International cooperation
Open Science



[3]Capital expenditures (CAPEX), operational expenditure (OPEX), internal rate of return (IRR), and net present value (NPV)

[4]SWD(2016) 205 final/2 Action Plan on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. A disaster risk-informed approach for all EU policies, as well as Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of waste resulting from extractive industries

Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual

2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.

Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.

3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.  
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (two-stage call):
For stage 1: maximum 3 months from the deadline for submission.
For stage 2: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Proposal templates are available after entering the submission link below.
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
12. Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials WP 2018-20
18. Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.

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To access existing draft proposals for this topic, please login to the Participant Portal and select the My Proposals page of the My Area section.

Type of Action Innovation action [IA]
Topic Raw materials innovation actions: exploration and Earth observation in support of sustainable mining - SC5-10-2019-2020
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