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Innovative Technologies and Concepts for the Intelligent Deep Mine of the Future

Periodic Report Summary 2 - I²MINE (Innovative Technologies and Concepts for the Intelligent Deep Mine of the Future)

Project Context and Objectives:
As the objectives for the first year were mainly to initiate and organise working and to develop project identity means, the second project year was dedicated to production of the first project results.

In WP1, a conceptual integration architecture model was finalised. Further, first successful demonstrations of detection of rock movements using rock bolts were carried out. The results are very positive and unique and will create a lot of interest in the mining world. All other task are well on track.

WP2 had a milestone workshop meeting to prove the development of all concepts under development. This milestone meeting was successful so that the development activities will continue as planned.

WP3 issued a comprehensive report about the state of ground control practice for demanding geomechanical conditions. Further to that a critical review of current practice in ground support design/selection was carried out as a milestone. The review was successful, the work will continue as planned.

WP4 completed the new cutting head for hard rock mining. The device has undergone a couple of functionality test so that the principle operation is proved. Further performance test will show if the intended cutting capability has been reached. The work in the other tasks of WP4 are on track and made good progress.

The work in WP5 has not yet started. However, as the WP is dealing with the intended demonstrations activities of the project, the WP is already in close contact with the other WPs in order to be aware of the achievements to be demonstrated.

WP6 will continue with the work in the different tasks as the final results of WP6 are only expected towards the end of the project.

WP7 finally will continue to support with dissemination of results and promotion of the project. The production of the project video has started in the second half of the reporting period.

Project Results:
In WP1, the work started with tasks analysing the processes under review. The major achievements has been the development of a mining domain model and a mining business model. The both models are based on two field studies. In the second period, a conceptual integration architecture model was finalised. Further, first successful demonstrations of detection of rock movements using rock bolts were carried out. The results are very positive and unique and will create a lot of interest in the mining world. All other task are well on track.
The work in WP2 started and commenced as planned. The work concentrated on basic investigations about the different mining methods and processes tackled in WP2 related to the overall question about how mining and other processes will be affected by increasing depths. In the second period, WP2 had a milestone workshop meeting to prove the development of all concepts. This milestone meeting was successful so that the development activities will continue as planned.
In WP3, the current practice in ground control/support design/selection in deep mines with steeply dipping and flat orebodies worldwide, has been analysed. As a result, a comprehensive report about the state of ground control practice for demanding geomechanical conditions was produced. Different numerical computations have been done to estimate changes occurring in the rock mass surrounding a roadway as well as in a support. Ground control problems related to deep mining fall into two extremes with respect to geomechanical conditions: (i) seismically active mines and (ii) weak host rock and orebody, weak strata and altered weak ore contact zones within a hard host rock mass. The main activities in the reporting period include numerical analyses, laboratory studies and field studies. A concept of an experimental monitoring system was produced and study of the technical feasibility carried out. The state of the art of the hybrid numerical model methods was analysed. A comparison of different planning tools for different kinds of mines have been done. For assessment of different cases a questionnaire was developed. The construction of the new spraying robot started. Further, several tests with various concretes have been carried out in order to investigate material characteristics. Further to that a critical review of current practice in ground support design/selection was carried out as a milestone. The review was successful, the work will continue as planned.
In WP4 work started with the construction of the hard rock cutting device. In the second period, the new cutting head for hard rock mining could be completed. The device has undergone a couple of functionality test. Further performance test will show if the intended cutting capability has been reached. The development of the machine auxiliary system (boundary layer detection, collision avoidance system, etc.) continued with investigations into suitable sensor technology. Finally, the design work of the sorting device started in the second half of the first reporting period and continued as planned.
WP6 started with basic investigations. As several of the objectives as to health and safety issues are depending on technology development in other tasks, detailed work could not be carried out. As to the tasks on ‘Green Mining’ and ‘Mine Rescue’, the work started with conceptual investigations and assessments about possible solutions. The work will continue with the work in the different tasks as the final results of WP6 are only expected towards the end of the project.
WP7 produced the project logo and established the project website, produced an extended summary of the project for public use and a basic project brochure as well as a set of 4 posters. We drafted a communication strategy and promoted the project at numerous occasions. The work started on social dialogue issue and related identification of suitable case study sites. The production of the project video started.

Potential Impact:
I²Mine will develop a set of innovative methods, technologies, machines and equipment for the economical, eco-innovative, intelligent and safe exploitation of mineral raw materials in the EU, including maintenance issues, especially at greater depths. Apart from the impact the project will have on societal level, it will also significantly improve the competitiveness of the extractive sector in Europe as well as the competitiveness of European equipment suppliers.
The mine of the future, which most likely has to exploit mineral raw materials at greater depths than today, requires a completely different layout compared to today’s deep mines. This is not limited to communication, planning and decision making tools but includes machinery for exploitation, transport and processing systems that are suitable to deal with the conditions expected at depths of some 1.5 km and beyond.
The core of the project will be to develop breakthrough technologies for autonomous, highly selective, continuous mineral extraction processes and machinery based on new sensor technologies, face-front separation as well as innovative concepts for mass flow management and transportation integrating all beyond state-of-the-art technologies. These developments include rock mechanics and ground control solutions and incorporate the health, safety and environmental issues as well.
The concept of an invisible, zero-impact mine requires a refined process underground that selectively mines the minerals and therefore reduces waste production closer to the mineralisation. For this reason, improved near-to-face processing methods including backfill procedures need to be developed. The necessary level of automation in mining operations regarding also health and safety and logistics issues can only be achieved by reaching a higher level of integration in all parts of a mine. Fully integrated underground technologies and processes for diagnosis and extraction as well as communication, health and safety issues are the key for the success of the concept. I²Mine will contribute significantly towards achieving the goal.
Further to that, I²Mine aims at achievements additionally necessary in the context of providing knowledge and technology for future development activities to reach the overall vision of an ‘invisible, zero-impact mine’. In particular, the project will aim to achieve the objectives mentioned hereafter and grouped by application fields.
One of the most important aspects of the project is to initiate, develop and maintain a dialogue between the main groups involved: industry, governmental bodies and civil society (including NGOs and the community). This dialogue will be directed towards improving common understanding of both the I²Mine project and its potential impacts in order to reconcile the interests of the parties involved

The expected impacts from the results of I²Mine project work will be manifold. I²Mine will generate results that will cause significant, sometimes high impacts to the subjects addressed in various EU policy documents and initiatives, which are:
• Increase the productivity of underground activities by at least 20%
• Enable mining and underground operations with zero impact on existing surroundings in urban and non-urban areas
• Create inherently safe underground workings and operating environments
• Strengthen the global competitiveness of the European mining industries
• Increase the sustainable access to underground resources in Europe, with the related decrease of EU dependency on resource imports

List of Websites:

http://www.i2mine.eu