A group including Mineral Commodities subsidiary Skaland Graphite has received more than €9 million in funding to develop the DINAMINE project in Europe that aims to make small and medium-sized mines more efficient and sustainable.
According to project coordinator Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, the €12.3 million partnership will develop and showcase how innovative solutions and digital technology – including robots, artificial intelligence and automation – can improve small and medium mining enterprises using a holistic mine management system.
DINAMINE has received €9.2 million from the European Commission in addition to project approval from the Horizon Europe program, the European Union’s key funding source for research and innovation.
The company argues Skaland is one of two European mining operations in the project consortium where developed technologies will be scaled-up and tested. The consortium consists of 11 partners from six European countries including three leading research institutes and industry partners.
Mineral Commodities says the project provides Skaland with access to innovative technologies and systems in addition to the highly skilled personnel working on DINAMINE from the project partners.
Optimising Skaland Graphite performance through leading edge sensors, equipment and control systems will position it as the premium European supplier of natural graphite.
The company says DINAMINE represents a step-change in process management at Skaland from its current manual operations. Beneficial applications for the project will include mine to port optimisation of the production process using sensors, models and process control algorithms developed by the consortium to optimise plant production rates.
Semi-automated drilling and remote geotechnical monitoring at its Trælen mine are expected to reduce mining costs and improve mine safety whilst the evaluation of alternative tailings options is aimed at reducing Skaland’s environmental footprint even further.
Mineral Commodities says this will allow Skaland to maximise graphite concentrate production and support future “green” certification requirements for graphite concentrate supply into the lithium-ion battery supply chain.
The company believes its Skaland project in Norway is the world’s highest-grade operating flake graphite mine at 1.84Mt going an extraordinary 23.6 per cent graphitic carbon.
In Western Australia, Mineral Commodities is currently waiting on environmental approval for its Munglinup graphite project and potential processing plant.
The project contains a 7.99Mt mineral resource going 12.2 per cent total graphitic carbon with a 4.24Mt reserve and it remains open along strike and at depth.
Mineral Commodities testing shows grading of up to 98.3 per cent total graphitic carbon and up to 3.5Mt of earth is expected to be moved each year should the project get the green light.
The latest round European funding should help Mineral Commodities maintain its first mover advantage as the European battery market heats up and looks to make the most of its geographic advantage over the big players in China. The company’s work has to date positioned them at the tip of the spear and should they be able to deliver on the promise of the pilot plant in WA and production plant in Norway it should be well on its way to kicking plenty of goals.
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