European Commission - Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

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Sustainable supply of raw MAteRails by uTilizing new EXPLORATION technologies

Acronym: 
SmartExploration
Abstract / executive summary: 

Europe has a favorable geology for hosting a variety of mineral resources. It covers a wide range of commodities including, for example iron, base and precious metals, REEs, PGEs, phosphate and not least industrial and construction materials. All these materials are essential for sustainable economic growth of the EU, for its continued technological advancements and for maintaining and improving the modern life style. There are, however, challenges such as exploration of deep targets or difficulties (e.g., noise and accessibility issues) in the vicinity of the exiting mines where continued supply of ore needs to be secured and environmental impacts of mining minimized. SmartExploration, a strong research and application team supported by a variety of technologically advanced SMEs and mining industry, will focus on developing tools and methods for exploration in highly challenging brown-field areas. New ideas will also be tested for green-field exploration. The goals will be achieved via development of new multidisciplinary approaches and through novel reprocessing and handling of legacy exploration data. Data mining, drilling-target generations and deep probing with new airborne, surface, in-mine and borehole electromagnetic (EM), seismic and potential field methods will be developed.

Coverage of the Action Areas referred to above: 

New exploration technologies to help secure supply of raw materials.

Objectives of the commitment: 

Our objectives include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Development of fast, reliable, and cost-effective geophysical tools and methods for high-resolution brown- and green-field exploration, in particular for the targeted EU raw materials;
(2) Exploration in deep mines (both open pit and underground);
(3) Exploration while mining (exploration guiding mining activities);
(4) Exploration with minimum- and to minimize environmental impacts;
(5) Data mining and generating targets and conceptual mineral-deposit modelling, signature and footprint studies;
(6) Novel approaches for handling, reprocessing and modelling of legacy exploration data;
(7) Application of the developed technologies to green-field areas to increase the knowledge about resources and integrating national exploration database.

Description of the activities: 

SmartExploration will primarily aim at developing seismic and EM methods and instruments to be used separately and jointly in highly noisy environments. Full-scale active and passive seismic data recording will be possible by time synchronizing seismic and EM receivers (real time-series analysis to be possible). Down-dip exploration will be made possible in stressed mines and new exploration targets will be generated by novel data mining, reprocessing, and joint inversion and modelling of existing exploration and public data through geological surveys.

New downhole seismic and EM sensors will be developed that would allow larger penetration around boreholes and higher resolution imaging and delineation of mineral deposits and structures controlling them. Novel seismic methods, both active and passive, will be applied for exploration with higher resolution, but at lower cost and lower environmental impact. Measuring while drilling will be possible using modified versions of some of these sensors to provide information about the velocities and structures around the hole.

Data integration tools will be implemented to improve interpretation reliability and resolution for complex targets. Tests on green-field areas will be performed with the aim to increase knowledge about potential resources.

Communication, dissemination, and dedicated workshops and conferences will be executed during the project through a professional organization partner. Outreach activities, popular science, peer-reviewed articles and presentations, coauthored by industry and relevant SME partners, will have a priority in the project.

We also anticipate patents within the projects that could be commercialized through the SME partners. Joint PhD-degree university projects and industry internships will be possible and aimed for in the project. This should allow mobility among partners but more importantly young researchers (PhD and MSc students) involved in the project.

Description of the expected impacts: 

SmartExploration will develop new exploration technologies suitable for brown- and green-fields and generating targets for modern but systematic exploration programs. A major focus of the application will be on non-invasive geophysical methods by, for example, turning the noise (vibration and seismicity) into useful signal for geophysical exploration.

Novel data mining and mineral-deposit modelling will be performed, signatures and host geological structures will be studied, and suitable technologies for their exploration will be introduced and tested. The application will give its main focus in areas at and around existing mines, but will also have a component for green-field exploration. New surface, in-mine and downhole acquisition systems will be designed and engineered to increase sensitivity and resolution of exiting geophysical methods. Structural vectoring will be developed to complement some of the geophysical studies.

Industrial exploration workflows and data integration tools will become available to the industry. We anticipate SmartExploration to not only help exploration to succeed but also be useful for mine planning, allowing sustainable mining with lower environmental impact. Feasibility for mining and exploration should always be studied together if we are to secure the future supply of minerals.

Expected innovation outcomes: 
New technologies
New ideas to the market
Societal innovation
Other
Comments: 

Our consortium and application is currently under development and the ideas listed here are subject to change and new partners are expected to join.

Name of the coordinating organisation: 
Uppsala University
Country: 
Sweden
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 

UU will coordinate the project and also actively take part in the developments of geophysical tools and methods for brown and green field geophysical exploration. UU will also take parts in data collection and pilot studies as well as the supervision of graduate students to work in the project.

Other partners: 
Name of partner: 
Institute of Geophysics, PAS
Country: 
Poland
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
IG PAS will perform research on geophysical exploration methods with focus on seismic imaging techniques, including full-waveform inversion and passive seismic interferometry that are going to be further developed within the ERA-MIN COGITO-MIN project framework (2016-18). IG PAS will also work on geophysical-geological data integration including constrained/join inversion of various geophysical datasets.
Name of partner: 
Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU)
Country: 
Sweden
Entity profile: 
Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: 
SGU is a central governmental agency for matters relating to the geology of Sweden and the management of mineral resources. SGU will take part in the data mining, handling, advise in site selection and also developing new EM methods in the project. SGU's expertise in all field of geosciences particularly those related to ore forming mineral systems and geophysics is essential in the project.
Name of partner: 
University of Helsinki
Country: 
Finland
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
Research on geophysical exploration methods, with specific focus on development of new processing techniques for seismic data and development of integrated geophysical-geological approaches for mineral exploration based on data mining (building on the methodology developed within the framework of the ERA-MIN project COGITO-MIN in (2016-18) and supervision of graduate students.
Name of partner: 
Politecnico di Torino - DIATI
Country: 
Italy
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
Research on geophysical exploration techniques with particular regards to seismic surface wave analysis (active and passive data). Data integration (geophysical/geological/petrophysical) for building constrained geo-model and for site characterization aimed at resources evaluation and extraction optimization.
Name of partner: 
Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg (TUBAF)
Country: 
Germany
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
TUBAF will perform research on geophysical exploration methods with focus on the further development of advanced seismic imaging techniques. This will include the reprocessing of existing data as well as the acquisition and processing of new field data. The supervision and exchange of graduate students will be undertaken jointly with project partners and is considered to be a vital component of the project.
Name of partner: 
Delft University of Technology
Country: 
Netherlands
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
Innovative seismic-interferometry applications for improved resolution, efficiency, lower environmental impact, and exploration of specific targets; novel reprocessing of legacy data; physics-based integrated geophysics; imaging and monitoring fractures using scattered wavefields and novel wavefield-retrieval techniques; development of controlled seismic source for targeted mineral exploration; data collection; supervision of students.
Name of partner: 
National Technical University of Athens (NTUA)
Country: 
Greece
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
The Mining Section of NTUA will be involved in the validation and best implementation of the innovative exploration techniques proposed in the application to optimize exploitation design of a new or existing mine. The Applied Geophysics Lab of the section will contribute in the electrical and seismic methods developments supporting with equipment and providing new multi-parameter analysis and interpretation of geo-data.
Name of partner: 
Nordic Iron Ore
Country: 
Sweden
Entity profile: 
Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: 
NIO will provide drill holes and logged drill core for the development of the geophysical and geotechnical models and better understanding of iron-apatite-oxide mineralization in the Ludvika region of central Sweden. Deeper imaging of the known deposits and their host environment will be one of the targets of the project. These will play a key role for the credibility of any new mine venture in Sweden, in particular important for our objectives.
Name of partner: 
EAGE Events BV
Country: 
Netherlands
Entity profile: 
Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: 
EAGE Events BV will have a key role in disseminating our project results, facilitating the communication among the partners, public information and organizing workshops and data storage. Organizing project website and updates, monthly project calls, quarterly newsletters, yearly articles on relevant EAGE publications, workshops (working groups) with other stakeholders, yearly update conference with wider audience, final conference.
Name of partner: 
LNEG - Laboratório Nacional de Energia e Geologia
Country: 
Portugal
Entity profile: 
Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: 
Exploration and research within the Iberian Pyrite Belt particularly in the Neves Corvo and Aljustrel sectors. Novel geophysical techniques and joint modeling of seismics, gravimetry, magnetics to delineate blind deposits at depth coupled with regional geochemistry and conceptual mineral deposit modeling. LNEG hosts the historical archives of all exploration drill holes and mining reports that can be used to delimit specific targets.
Name of partner: 
SkyTEM Surveys
Country: 
Denmark
Entity profile: 
Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: 
SkyTEM Surveys is a market leader in the provision of airborne electromagnetic surveys. The developments of the receiver coil system with special emphasis on the dual receiver coil technology will be unique and is a technical challenge that SkyTEM Surveys is keen to overcome. The new tool will give a clear market advantage in an industry where innovation is crucial to stay at the forefront and develop new markets.
Name of partner: 
BitSim AB
Country: 
Sweden
Entity profile: 
Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: 
Developing cost-effective digital downhole seismic systems for slimholes to be used for virtual seismic imaging and cross-borehole tomography. Integrating acoustic sensors into the drill string for measurements while drilling.
Name of partner: 
Mic Nordic AB
Country: 
Sweden
Entity profile: 
Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: 
Development of a mobile GPS-time signal transmitter using fiber optic technologies and for synchronized in-mine seismic and EM surveys. Mic Nordic is specialized in mobile technologies and their development will allow a full-scale passive and active seismic experiment to be possible in undergorund areas.
Name of partner: 
Geopartner Ltd.
Country: 
Poland
Entity profile: 
Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: 
Geopartner performs service (API) on geophysical exploration methods with focus on mid-range 2D seismic, gravity/magnetic, magnetotelluric and induced polarization data. Geopartner also provides advanced joint inversion algorithms to constrain geological interpretation of seismic, gravity and magnetotelluric data.
Name of partner: 
University of Aarhus
Country: 
Denmark
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
Aarhus University together with SkyTEM Surveys are unique in providing airborne and groundbased transient electromagnetic systems and surveys in Europe. They work globally. Aarhus University develop data processing and imaging software for 3D modelling of the subsurface. Various 3D modelling schemes in conjunction with measurement schemes and hardware will be development for probing deep targets as part of the project.
Name of partner: 
Silixa Ltd.
Country: 
United Kingdom
Entity profile: 
Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: 
Silixa will utilize novel, non-intrusive intelligent Distributed Acoustic Sensor (iDAS) for active and passive signal imaging. The iDAS dense spatial sampling offers a cost effective sensitive tool for exploration. A hybrid optical cable with more sensitive acoustic detection thresholds than currently commercially available and temperature change detection capability is being developed by Silixa and will be employed in the project.
Name of partner: 
HELLAS GOLD S.A.
Country: 
Greece
Entity profile: 
Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: 
Hellas Gold poly-metal mining company will apply and validate the exploration technologies developed during the course of the project for probing deeper generalization targets and also for reducing environmental impact of mining and exploration.
Name of partner: 
University of Turku
Country: 
Finland
Entity profile: 
Academia
Role within the commitment: 
3D conceptual ore body modelling and structural interpretation of various geophysical and geological data. Data mining and structural vectoring methodologies for mineral exploration with particular focus on the Peräpohja mineral belt of northern Finland.
Existing EU contribution: 
Yes
Source: 
FP 7
Horizon 2020
ERA-NET actions
Period to implement the commitment: 
Tuesday, 15 March, 2016 to Sunday, 31 May, 2020