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EU supports innovation and sustainable mineral exploration

Press release published on 11 April 2017

The Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF), which is part of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, will receive a grant of approximately €900,000 over the next three years to support the development of new technologies for the environmentally and socially sustainable as well as efficient exploration of natural resources. The EU funding will be made available by EIT RawMaterials, which is supported by the European Insitute of Innovation and Technology, and has already been earmarked for three new projects. The researchers are seeking to advance drone-based exploration and other innovative exploration methods.

Spectroscopy sensor

The HIF-led inSPECTor project aims at developing an innovative sensor system that can, for example, be used with a drill core scanner. The ultimate objective is the rapid, precise and non-destructive analysis of rare earths and other critical raw materials. For this purpose, the project partners intend to combine different sensors in modular fashion, thereby exploiting the strengths of both hyperspectral imaging and laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy. This novel approach is intended to facilitate efficient and high-resolution, two-dimensional mapping of natural rock samples and drill cores. It can also be used for the processing or recycling of valuable substances.

Other partners in the project are Freiberg Instruments, the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), the Institute of Applied Physics at TU Bergakademie Freiberg and Specim Spectral Imaging Ltd.

Multisensor drones

The aim of the MULSEDRO project is to take drone-borne technologies for the exploration of mineral deposits to the next level. In the future, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will look at the earth’s surface as well as measuring the physical properties of the subsurface. For this purpose, they will be equipped with hyperspectral and magnetic sensors. The surficial and subsurface information can then be combined to generate three-dimensional models. A highly promising area of ​​application for this technology is the efficient, non-invasive exploration of raw materials in remote regions. Due to the increasing demand for resources, the mining industry is investing heavily in logistically difficult and environmentally sensitive areas, i.e. precisely the sort of location where drones are the ideal tool for quickly, flexibly, inexpensively and accurately obtaining information about potential deposits.

This project is coordinated by the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS). Other contributors apart from HIF are DMT GmbH & Co. KG, the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), LTU Business AB and Radai Oy.

Arctic Network

The Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology is part of the new European consortium Arctic Network Hub – ARCHUB (, which is committed to sustainable mineral exploration and extraction in the Arctic. The region is the focus of new exploration projects due to the abundance of raw materials there. One of the key questions that the ARCHUB has set out to answer is how these resources can be explored in an environmentally friendly and socially appropriate way by using innovative technology and achieving a broader participation of stakeholders. A major aim is to bring all parties together to set up environmental guidelines. The members of ARCHUB wish to promote and develop innovative exploration technologies using, for example, geophysics and remote sensing, as well as three-dimensional and four-dimensional mapping and simulation. HIF’s main contribution to the network is its expertise in the field of drone-based exploration and hyperspectral remote sensing

ARCHUB is coordinated by the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS). Partners come from government bodies, industry and research: DMT GmbH & Co. KG, the Geological Survey of Finland, the Geological Survey of Sweden, HIF, Luleå University of Technology, Oulu Mining School, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden Holding AB/CBI Betonginstitutet AB, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, and Uppsala University.

For more information:

Dr. Richard Gloaguen | Head Exploration Division
Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology at HZDR
Tel. +49 351 260-4424