Autonomous Exploration and Extraction of Deep Mineral Deposits

The continuous effort and increased demand of the raw materials are directing the mining companies to excavate minerals at greater depths. This trend is challenging the current mining operations and the existing traditional technologies towards the objective to retain profitability, while achieving the latest Green Deal environmental vision and securing human workers safety. A key enabler, to address these challenges and to foster a sustainable development of the mining industry, is the development and deployment of innovative technologies for resource efficient extraction of the EU’s raw materials, as well as near mine exploration of critical raw materials in currently non-extracted ore bodies in existing or abandoned ones.

PERSEPHONE is aiming to address these challenges by developing of the pioneering technologies for pushing the limits of EU mining industry and embodiment of autonomous and integrated near mine exploration capability to access deep deposits of critical raw materials through hard-to-reach deep and abandoned mines. The overall concept and vision of PERSEPHONE will be achieved by reducing the size of mining machines currently adapted to the human scale and embedding autonomy for risk-aware navigation and full digitalization of the extraction process by digital twin creation and key enabling technologies validation at TRL 5. Additionally, PERSEPHONE is introducing completely novel approaches in online near mine exploration core analysis and overall integration of related data analytics to the mine expansion. Thus, PERSEPHONE allows to foster green transition by reducing the cost and waste generated from deep-mining operations and foster the vision of zero human presence in highly hazardous areas. These will allow to achieve PERSEPHONE’s overall goal to digitalize and automate extraction value chain by creation of new concepts of energy-efficient autonomous drilling machines with advanced perception capabilities for navigation, face drilling, and core extraction, which will enable data-driven digital twin creation and geological modelling for further enhanced decision support and optimal extraction planning.


Project start: 1 January 2024


CrItical RAw materials extraction in enviroNmentally protected areas

CIRAN will develop, test and validate processes to arrive at systemic policy-making, balancing environmental protection and societal needs for accessing critical raw materials (CRMs). This will be achieved through: 1) streamlined permitting procedures in environmentally protected areas; 2) modern policies and social contract frameworks that reconcile the protection of environmentally sensitive areas and domestic sourcing of CRMs in the EU; and 3) the development of a community of practice to support the uptake of the CIRAN recommendation and that will remain active after the project funding period.

CIRAN proposes a logical framework that justifies extraction on the basis of a system-oriented assessment and the co-creation of knowledge (i.e. tested and validated by communities located in or nearby environmentally protected areas). It will create novel social contract models identifying rights, obligations and responsibilities of governments (national/regional), communities and mine operators, capable of dealing with transformations and challenges due to climate change.

As a distinctive feature, CIRAN brings together 25 external experts on the environmental, political, social, economic, and technological factors that will shape the energy transition responses and the demand for CRMs. These experts, organised in four Expert Groups (EGs), will work with the Consortium, conveying insights on policy-making and -implementation, economic drivers, technologies, mining, local governance, social capital, nature conservation and biodiversity. The EGs will actively engage in CIRAN through synergetic processes combining analysis and deliberation, and participation in project workshops and structured consultations (e.g. focus groups, foresight analysis).

The Consortium is geared to develop inclusive policy-making instruments that support the EU Green Deal and UN-led reforms to reach the climate commitments and sustainable development goals.

This project is coordinated by INTRAW.

Project start: 1 January 2023


Building Africa-EU Partnerships on Sustainable Raw Materials Value Chains

Securing the access to raw materials represents a critical issue for the European ambition to deliver the Green Deal and perform the energy and digital twin transition. AfricaMaVal aims to build an EU and Africa business networking on the whole CRM value chains.

AfricaMaVal is a 42-month project gathering 18 partners from 11 countries. It is coordinated by BRGM, the French Geological Survey. The consortium gathers African and European experienced organisations, associations, and networks deeply anchored and involved in the raw material domain with specific expertise, and knowledge.

Project start: 1 June 2022


Raw materials from geothermal fluids – Occurrence – Enrichment – Extraction

The Horizon Europe-funded CRM-geothermal project is developing an innovative technology solution which combines the extraction of critical raw materials and energy from geothermal fluids.

The energy and digital transitions require a large amount of mineral raw materials, some of which are considered ‘critical’ by the European Union. These Critical Raw Materials (CRM) are predominantly imported from non-European countries where environmental and ethical standards may be less strict than in the EU. However, the EU has largely untapped resources at its disposal in geothermal fluids, some of which contain significant amounts of CRMs.

CRM-geothermal project therefore proposes to combine the extraction of mineral raw materials and geothermal heat, a renewable energy resource from the ground that is available 24 hours per day. The technology solution developed by CRM-geothermal will thus help Europe fulfil the strategic objectives of the EU Green Deal and the Agenda for Sustainable Development while reducing dependency on imported CRM.

Project start: 1 May 2022

SCRREEN2 (closed on 31 December 2023)

Solutions for CRitical Raw materials – a European Expert Network 2

In order to secure the sustainable access to primary and secondary raw materials and particularly Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) in the EU, there is a need for expert advice to better understand the value chains of the raw materials screened in the CRMs assessment. Making this information freely available, through the SCRREEN knowledge database and the EC Raw Materials Information System, will support decision-making at the EU level on the CRM strategies.

In the continuation of SCRREEN, SCRREEN2 will develop and strengthen the SCRREEN expert network in order to cover all raw materials screened in the CRM 2020 assessment. The work was initiated in 2019 to support the EC (validation workshop and creation of an expert database). The SCRREEN network gathers today expertise on primary and secondary resources; production, including exploration, mining, processing, recycling and refining; substitution of CRM; raw materials markets; future demand and supply; materials flows; socio-economic analysis. It covers also strategic value chains and endues sectors, including batteries, e-mobility, renewable energy, electronics, defence and aerospace.

Project start: 1 November 2020