Innovative Technologies and Concepts for the Intelligent Deep Mine of the Future
Inducement and Motivation
The access to mineral raw materials is crucial for the sound functioning of the EU’s economy. The European raw materials are deposited in increasingly greater depths. Thus, the mine of the future will exploit mineral raw materials at greater depths than today.
I²Mine is placed in the 7th Framework Programme of the EU. I²Mine is one of the biggest R&D projects in the mining industry ever funded by EU. The term is four years in which the partners from academia and industry throughout Europe work on the mine of the future. The project budget is in the range of € 25.5 million including a EU contribution of € 16 million. The project should turn the image of the mining sector from being a ‘dirty industry’ into a high-tech industry. RWTH Aachen University is part of the I²Mine consortium and is, inter alia, represented by the Institute of Mineral Resources Engineering (MRE).
Work Packages in I²Mine
I²Mine is thematically divided into eight work packages (WP):
- WP1. Mine-wide Information and Control Systems, Logistic and Mass-flow Management
- WP2. Novel Mining and Underground Processing Methods
- WP3. Rock Mechanics and Ground Control
- WP4. Innovative Machinery for Deep Underground Mines
- WP5. Application, Demonstration, Validation
- WP6. Health and Safety and Environmental Aspects in Future Deep Mining
- WP7. Communication, Dissemination and Societal Issues
- WP8. Coordination and Management
MRE is involved in WP2 und WP6.
Mine-to-Mill Integration Concepts
WP2 focuses the development of novel mining and processing concepts in greater depths. A direct one-to-one application of currently available mining methods at greater depths will not lead to acceptable solutions; hence a united concept is required. In this context, MRE deals with integrated underground waste rejection concepts. Ideally, underground waste material can be used as backfill. Concepts are developed and simulated in cooperation with I²Mine Partners. The results are verified and validated with European mining companies.
Deep Mine Rescue
WP6 is mainly dedicated to health and safety aspects. In this work package, MRE focuses the topic “Deep Mine Rescue Management/Systems”. The objective of this task is to develop integrated mine rescue systems and concepts, with focus on usage of technology, to rescue miners trapped in a damaged deep mine. Experience shows that mining accidents can never be totally excluded (e.g. San José, Chile 2010). Even if the vision of I²Mine is an unmanned and fully automated mine, underground mining jobs will still exist in the near future. Therefore, appropriate rescue methods and technologies must be developed, taking into account the specific situations of deep mines. The results will be summarized in a kind of best-practice guide and guidelines, which become into force in the case of a major mine accident.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° .