The demand for mineral resources to meet current societal needs has been steadily increasing over last years. Mineral exploration, the first step of the raw materials cycle, is facing a great challenge because the shallow and easily accessible mineral deposits have already been mined. The industry now needs access to deeper and more complex mineral systems. To address this challenge, more efficient, effective and sustainable exploration tools are needed. The SIT4ME project team organized a workshop aimed to showcase and discuss a broad view of the new approaches in the mineral exploration world.
The workshop was successfully held online on November 10th and 11th as a part of the outreach activities scheduled for this project funded by EIT Raw Materials. "The workshop has provided a valuable opportunity to get a taste of the leading edge technologies recently developed focusing in mineral exploration" , says Ramon Carbonell, researcher at GEO3BCN-CSIC and coordinator of the SIT4ME project.
The final programme of the workshop consisted of 20 presentations, which offered a wide panorama of the different geological, geophysical, and geochemical techniques aimed to increase exploration efficiency, cost effectiveness and safety of the operations.
"We scheduled several multidisciplinary talks, which have dealt with topics such as exploration, production or even the social implications of mining. It is always interesting to see how different groups face a common challenge as important to our society as it is the provision of minerals ", explains Juan Alcalde, researcher at GEO3BCN-CSIC and organizer of the workshop.
Over the three scheduled sessions, the development of new exploration tools was analyzed with interesting case studies such as the avant-garde ROBOMINERs or VeRoLiberator technologies. The workshop also showcased the development and results from several international projects such as SMART, ITarg3T or the Innolog project, coordinated by GEO3BCN researcher María José Jurado. New developments on existing subsurface probing techniques was also a key theme, including engaging discussions on new approaches to seismic imaging techniques. Moreover, the SIT4ME project team presented the developments and some of the results of the project.
"We made an effort to invite speakers with expertise in different fields, and, in my opinion, the result could not have been better. Session 2, for example, included interesting points of view from speakers involved in different international projects, and was also aimed to promote the interaction between researchers with different origins and backgrounds. Seeing the discussions after the talks, I think we have achieved our goals ", says Juan Alcalde.
The workshop was divided in three sessions focused on advanced exploration techniques and results, international exploration projects and results of the EIT Raw Materials SIT4ME project. Tim Julian-Hupe (DTM GMBH), Irene de Felipe (GEO3BCN-CSIC) and Alba Gil de la Iglesia (Uppsala University) were the convenors of each session.
The organizers of the workshop highlight the large number of registered participants. 85 people from 25 different countries pre-registered to attend the workshop. "We had an average of 45 participants during the two days of the workshop, a large number considering the current situation. In addition, we had participants with different level of interaction with the mining sector, from industry experts with decades of experience to students or even professionals from other sectors who just wanted to see what the world of mineral exploration is like ", says Alcalde.
Wokshop organizers are satisfied with the final result of the meeting. "We hope that this unique workshop contributes to disseminate and generate new ideas to be pursued by subsurface characterization research community to aid exploration", says explains Ramon Carbonell. Meanwhile, Juan Alcalde hopes that this workshop “have contributed to forming new collaboration bonds, by bringing together people with such a different expertise”.