Featuring a total of 17 partners from 9 EU countries, ¡VAMOS! develops novel technology for the extraction of mineral deposits from flooded open pit mines. To reach this aim, the partners are developing an innovative system to launch a remotely operated mining vehicle from a waterborne carriage. The underwater mining equipment can then be operated without any adverse effects on groundwater levels.
After 18 months the ¡VAMOS! Consortium has reached the “design freeze” stage of the prototypes to be built. ¡VAMOS!, the Viable Alternative Mining Operating System, is a 42-month research and development project launched to enable the opening and rehabilitation of underexploited European mineral deposits. The project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
Over the past months the System Architecture of the equipment for ¡VAMOS! was further developed into designs for the equipment prototypes. The designs, including the working method of the system, were evaluated by external experts who sit on the project Advisory Board. The technical partners of the consortium will now be starting procurement and construction. The build phase should be completed by the end of this year, after which, each component will undergo functional testing before being assembled. Due to lead times of certain parts, some components are being built already. The cutter boom and chassis of the mining vehicle is being constructed at Sandvik in Austria. The high-pressure slurry pump is ready for performance testing at Damen Dredging Equipment, Nijkerk in the Netherlands (Fig.).
Damen Dredging Equipment, the dredging tools specialist within the Damen Shipyards Group, as one of the 17 ¡VAMOS! partners, has the responsibility of developing and supplying the slurry circuitry components and the launch and recovery system for the mining vehicle. For the Launch and Recovery Vessel Damen’s standard modular pontoons were chosen because of their ease of road transportation to remote areas and their sturdy, standardised design. The 11 pontoons will be delivered from stock, some of which will be adapted to the special requirements of the ¡VAMOS! project.
Meanwhile the activities within other work packages of the project are in full swing, and some of the corresponding deliverables are completed. Background regulatory checks from a mining and environmental perspective across Europe have been completed. A “zero-state” environmental and geo-hazard identification criteria template has been prepared, and the ethics requirements as imposed by the EU have been checked. “Progress is on schedule, and we are looking forward to reporting shortly on the state of play to the H2020 commission”, reports Jenny Rainbird from BMT Group Ltd, who coordinates the project.