The European Commission has granted €9.3 million to a three-year H2020 project coordinated by VTT called X-Mine, which develops new sensor technologies for mining companies’ drill core analyses and for efficient sorting of precious minerals and metals in ore. The X-Mine project also promotes more efficient 3D modeling of mining companies’ mineral resources, and thus improved recovery of precious minerals.
The project combines products developed by various sensor manufacturers with commercial ore dressing equipment and aims to achieve sensor fusion that allows rock with low levels of minerals to be separated from the ore.
The project reached its midway point at the turn of the year and is progressing gradually to the piloting of both drill core analyzers and ore dressing equipment at mines during the spring of 2019. Two drill core analyzers were adopted at mines in Greece and Sweden towards the end of 2018, and members of the project consortium are currently testing new sensors for ore dressing equipment and designing ore dressing algorithms. The project consortium consists of 15 research partners and businesses from around the world.
The consortium’s aim is to develop solutions for efficient ore extraction and for reducing the amount of waste generated by the ore extraction process. All in all, the project is expected to reduce the harmful environmental impacts of mining by reducing the need for ore processing and chemical processing in mineral recovery. The project consortium is also looking to lower mining companies’ production costs.
The X-Mine project is based on international cooperation between research institutions from Finland (VTT), Sweden (Uppsala University, Geological Survey of Sweden) and Romania (Geological Institute of Romania) as well as sensor and equipment manufacturers from Finland (Advacam Oy), Poland (Antmicro Sp. z o. o. and Comex Polska Sp. z o. o), the Czech Republic (Advacam s.r.o.) and Sweden (Orexplore AB). End users involved in the project include mining companies in Bulgaria (Assarel Medet Jsc.), Greece (Hellas Gold S.A.), Cyprus (Hellenic Copper Mines Ltd) and Sweden (Lovisagruvan AB) as well as mining lobbies in Sweden (Bergskraft) and Australia (Swick Mining Services Ltd).