DEmonstration & Market UPtake
Building upon the sound basis of the previous SOLSA H2020 project (2016-2020), SOLSA-DEM’UP is an EIT Raw Materials project (2022-2025) that will bring to market the first automated expert system for on-line drill cores and sample analysis.
The concept is based on an integrated drilling coupled with an automated scanner and phase identification software, piloting various analytical instruments and interpreting the results in real time. This will revolutionize exploration campaigns and identification of soil, subsoil and related raw materials, by reducing time and costs, and facilitating environmental monitoring.
EIT Raw Materials SOLSA-DEM'UP project
Start date: 1st Sept.2022.00
End date: 31 Aug.2025.00
No. of partners6.00including 1 start-up
New mining projects tend to be remote and expensive to explore, risking Europe’s raw materials supply and independence. SOLSA-DEM’UP proposes to make exploration campaigns more accessible by bringing them into the digital age. The goal is to industrialize the SOLSA Expert System, that has been prototyped at TRL6 during the H2020 project SOLSA, GA n° 689868. This solution combines analytical instruments and drilling with specific software, for providing on site, in real time, elemental and mineralogical compositions of any type of core and sample. The users’ interest is saving at least 50% of time and money, due to a game-changing technology allowing data integration and analyses. Based on the value proposition and marketing approach done in 2021, the commercialization plan will be strengthened via the creation of a start-up at the beinning (Inel Innov), to reach go-to-market readiness, toward the implementation plan and commitment of customers. The performance and reliability of the concept will be demonstrated to future clients, by making field operations with the existing prototype. Other success factors will be addressed which are enlarging the field of applications to strategic sectors such as critical raw materials, environmental monitoring and rehabilitation of industrial sites, extending the existing system capabilities on software and devices subject to strong market development and putting a continuous effort on dissemination and transfer to the younger generation.
Aims and objectives
The goal of this project is to industrialize and bring the solution developed in previous years (see H2020 project) to the market by demonstrating its industrial feasibility on pilot sites identified by the market study. SOLSA offers a field equipment with cutting-edge technology in the mining and quarrying exploration domain extended to the environmental and service sectors. Companies are regularly faced with issues mainly related to unsatisfactory recovery of cutting samples obtained with destructive techniques, high costs of core drilling especially with large diameters ensuring quality cores, too long delays in carrying out exploration campaigns, data acquisition focused on elemental analyses while mineralogical studies are acquired ad-hoc to address operational problems.
SOLSA enables elemental and mineralogical analyses, in real time and on all types of drilling cores or samples. The prototype offers a connected sonic drilling equipped with a wireline that halves the drilling time. The analytical modules are designed to work as a whole or alone, and any other drilling techniques can be connected if needed, to ensure great flexibility and adaptability tailored to the customer’s needs.
All along the project’s life, the consortium will have the opportunity to work on and improve the business model to best address the market. According to McKinsey & Co, who studied the budget and schedule overruns of more than 40 mining projects completed in the last 10 years, optimizing mining feasibility studies would represent an opportunity of US$100 billion. Thus, increasing geological information while decreasing data acquisition time are the main levers to reduce the uncertainty at the Preliminary Economic Assessment stage and thus decrease the financial and schedule risks.
The performances of the system will be demonstrated in the field and in different geological contexts, including various geological surroundings of future customers’ mines, quarries, monitoring and services activities. In addition, disseminating and advertising all along the project will be a vector for making the system known to a vast number of mining and other ground experts, initially in Europe and then worldwide.
Launching the transfer of knowledge will include courses given by the partners’ experts in the fields of geology, drilling, laboratory, crystallography, instrumentation, and data science. By proposing internships and at least 6 jobs in the start-up, the consortium will continue the effort to attract young talents and offer them a career opportunity in a high value-added sector.
Outcomes and impact
The SOLSA expert system
By the end of the project, we will have developed a functional tool capable of providing real-time elemental and mineralogical analyses on all types of drilling cores or samples. The competitive advantage of SOLSA lies in reducing by half the data acquisition time and costs, and increasing considerably mineralogical data, leading to a more accurate geological knowledge of the terrain. This should significantly decrease the uncertainty during preliminary feasibility studies and contribute to reduce the risk of financial and schedule overrun versus metrics announced during feasibility studies.
Building on this new powerful tool, we will be able to provide the market with a piece of equipment and/or a service :
The SOLSA expert system is the unique combination of drilling and automated mobile, delivering in-field, on-line and real-time raw material analyses in an integrated continuous work- and dataflow. The product can be commercialized as a whole or as its individual modules:
- Fast drilling of complete, coherent, and undisturbed cores with minimal environmental impact is ensured by the SOLSA DRILL module currently equipped with a sonic technology, with a target speed of 6 m/h and holes up to 100m depth.
- The Identification module, or MODULAB, composed of a combined core scanner and benchtop analyser. The target speed for the chemical and mineralogical analyses is 6m/h, same as drilling.
- An intelligent software, connected to open database and libraries that store the data and deliver online the results.
The SOLSA expert system will also be proposed through services where a company will be the one managing the equipment to undertake studies to the client.
The SOLSA-DEM’UP project will also contribute to demonstrate the willingness of open innovation of European companies and universities, combining advanced research with economic issues. The scientific approach brought by European researchers and the technical and economic feasibility studied by industrial companies are the guarantee of the success of innovative projects which contribute to promote European know-how.
Project specifications are tailored by end-users, while the implementation is carried out by the six partners with expertise in various fields: from exploration techniques, hardware design for data acquisition and integration into an on-line-on-mine system, software design and data processing, automatisation, data validation, qualification of the integrated solution, through to marketing strategies for commercialisation.
EIT Raw Materials SOLSA-DEM'UP project