Robot reducing mining industry's environmental impact tested in Estonia

The mining robot prototype.
The mining robot prototype. Source: ERR

A prototype robot that aims to reduce the mining industry's environmental footprint is undergoing testing in Ubja Quarry in Lääne-Viru County.

The robot is 10 times smaller than conventional mining equipment and can be sent into small areas where it is difficult to extract materials. The machine only digs in areas where the minerals are located and does not create huge mountains of waste products.

Researchers from Finland and Estonia are leading the EU-funded project and scientists from Spain, Belgium and Austria are also involved.

"We would be able to carry out selective mining. A robot that goes down, doesn't take everything out but understands where the veins in the ore go and follows them, drills down and extracts the metal. The rest of the soil would be left as intact as possible," TalTech Professor Maarja Kruusmaa told Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

She said the prototype could be used to reduce the European Union's dependence on third countries by mining strategic mineral resources needed for the green transition.

"Phosphorus comes with all kinds of valuable alkaline minerals that we could use. We know that this is a very painful issue for Estonians, and the question is whether we have the technologies to get this metal out of there without damaging or with minimal damage to nature," said Kruusmaa.

However, the robot will not be able to completely replace workers.

"But in the future, it won't actually be replacing miners, it will be going where miners can't go. For example, abandoned underwater mines, deep mines where the miners themselves would not be able to go," said Asko Ristolainen, senior researcher at TalTech.

It will take four-six years to move from prototype to production.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: