A UK academic group investigating ‘small deposit’ mining has received €7m of funding under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to advance work on ‘an ethical and sustainable international mining revolution’.
Led by geologists from Cornwall’s Camborne School of Mines, the IMP@CT project team expects to exploit a number of small, international metal deposits as part of efforts to develop their ‘switch on-switch off [SOSO]’ mining approach. They are working with ten partner organisations in the UK, France, Germany and Finland.
The SOSO concept revolves around small-scale mining that enables metal producers to respond rapidly to market demands and excavate materials that are desired and required most in a given period.
Project leader Dr Kathryn Moore said: “This research is exciting because it has the potential to unlock many small deposits globally, which would ultimately improve the security of supply of materials for manufacturers.
“The project connects the companies creating the necessary technological innovations with academia and a national survey, who will investigate and model the broader step-changes required to roll out the new mining system in a sustainable way.”
The IMP@CT project is looking to develop targeted technological innovations in mining equipment design, as well as mine planning, reducing the scale of feasibility studies and ultimately energy and infrastructure requirements of projects.
Dana Finch, project manager at the Camborne School of Mines, added: “Ethical issues are at the heart of the project.
“One of our partners will be conducting a social survey in the Balkans, in the region of the first test mine for the project, and we have involved experts in the fields of geo-ethics and social and environmental sustainability from the outset to inform the way the technology might be implemented in the future.”