University of Exeter

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    Miguel García G...
    26 July 2019 - updated 1 year ago
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Who is the woman leading this innovation?

Kathryn Moore is leading this innovation.She is Senior Lecturer in Critical and Green Technology Metals at the University of Exeter.

About the innovator

The Camborne School of Mines and Renewable Energy reside within the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Exeter. We are collaboratively developing sustainable and responsible mining solutions that will help to secure access to resources for European manufacturing. We consider resourcing of the materials required for development of the green energy infrastructure and the raw materials for other modern technological devices, as well as the bulk metals from which our society is constructed. Moreover, our perspectives on the entire value chain of raw materials provision, from exploration to extraction and subsequent mine closure, is placed in the context of environmental and societal sustainability, including climate change. Kate Moore of the Camborne School of Mines is a geologist and project leader of IMP@CT: Integrated Mobile modularised Plant and Containerised Tools for selective, low-impact mining of small high-grade deposits. (funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Programme; Grant no 730411).

What is the innovation

The IMP@CT (mining and energy) team in the University of Exeter is developing three innovations. (1) We have designed and constructed a mobile and modular, containerised facility for separating valuable metallic minerals from mined material (minerals processing). The facility is adaptable to widely different ore deposits and can operate highly effectively for much smaller rock inputs than commercially available processing plants. This is suitable for high-grade but small ore deposits, such as those across Europe. (2) We are determining the conditions necessary for rapid deployment of an integrated mining system, where the minerals processing facility is fed by an underground selective mining tool, comminution (rock-breaking) and ore sorting tools, and energy provision is sustainable. (3) Our rapid deployment approaches would enable the raw materials production sector to better keep pace with changes in manufacturing demand. Switch on-Switch off (SOSO) mining would enable raw material producers in Europe to capitalise on rapidly fluctuating commodity prices caused by the imbalance between raw materials supply and demand. The innovations for rapid deployment and SOSO mining derive from research by multiple partners in the IMP@CT consortium, in collaboration with the University of Exeter.

Out of the lab. Into the market

The concepts of SOSO mining and rapidly deployed adaptable, integrated selective and small-scale mining have been taken immediately ‘out of the lab’ within the funded work programme and deployed on an active mine site. The entire mining system is currently producing lead concentrate in Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the Olovo mine site operated by IMP@CT partner MINECO. In the autumn of 2019, the entire system will be adapted and redeployed to an antimony ore deposit in Serbia, also operated by MINECO. IMP@CT approaches to mining are particularly suitable for mining companies such as MINECO, which holds licences for multiple small ore deposits and will benefit from the ability to relocate processing equipment. By the end of the consortium project the economic viability of the mining system and the conditions necessary for its success will have been established.
A dissemination and commercialisation plan is underway to demonstrate the validity of the mining approach for different European (and global) ore deposits to mining companies, the academic community, the public and policy-makers. The plan includes the commercial use of the minerals processing facility after the end of the consortium project, to constrain the most effective adaptation of the plant to different ores for mining companies. It also includes the use of the test facility to train the next generation of mining and minerals processing professionals and to provide continuing professional development.
(Industrial consortium partners on the project have their own commercialisation plans for parts of the integrated rapidly deployed system that lie outside of the University of Exeter, which includes patents.)

Benefits of participation in Horizon 2020

The innovations within the IMP@CT project directly meet all five of the strategic goals of the University of Exeter:
1. The adaptable IMP@CT mining system ‘builds research power to tackle global challenges’. Participation in the framework programme provides opportunities for stakeholder engagement and future collaborations for the creation of impact.

2. The test facility will contribute to ‘delivery of an internationally excellent education’ for the next generation of mining engineers and renewable energy engineers. Participation in the framework programme accelerates the transfer of knowledge from research and innovation actions into applied skills for the next generation workforce.

3. Critical raw materials are essential for European and global manufacturing. Participation in the framework programme ‘creates impact regionally, nationally and globally’ in that it extends critical raw material research capability and mining services in Cornwall, a region of the UK.

4. Participation in the framework programme directly ‘supports employees to make the exceptional happen’ as it creates an environment in which multidisciplinary approaches are fostered.

5. The final strategic goal of the University is to ‘make the most of our resources’, which promotes efficiency and environmental sustainability in the face of climate change in all University activities. Participation in the framework programme provides structures for the placement of ethical mining, society and environment at the heart of the technological activities within the multidisciplinary IMP@CT project, which directly addresses efficient and responsible provision of resources.

This innovation was funded via H2020 project IMP@CT.

Team behind the innovation