EDM – Empresa de Desenvolvimento Mineiro, SA participates in the UNEXMIN project, which aims to develop three robot prototypes for 3D mapping and the collection of geodata in flooded underground mines. Unequalled in technology and long-range planning capacity, it is intended that these fully autonomous robots will gather information at much lower risk and with data reliability that would be unlikely to be achieved using traditional human diving techniques.
With an investment of five million euros financed by the European Horizon 2020 research programme, the project, led by the University of Miskolc, Hungary, also includes the participation, on a consortium basis, of 13 more organizations, three of which are Portuguese (EDM, INESCTEC and Geoplano) from six different countries, Portugal, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Slovenia and Finland.
The prototypes of the robots under development should reach the testing phase in March 2018, which will last for one year. First at Kaatiala mine (Finland), then Urgeiriça mine (Portugal), followed by Idrija mine (Slovenia) and finally Deep Ecton mine (United Kingdom). Underground mining activities at Urgeiriça uranium mine took place between 1913 and 1973. The infrastructure includes six vertical shafts and underground galleries extending over a length of 1,600 m on 18 different levels that reach a depth of 500 m. These galleries are accessible by means of the Sta. Bárbara shaft, with a depth of 400 m, which will be used to test the robots. The water is around 10 m below the surface.
This is a cutting-edge project at the service of the mining industry throughout Europe. It represents a first step towards the development of knowledge to support strategic decisions regarding the reopening of former mines which are submerged.