Finally, after two years of Covid-19 and endless online meetings, the Consortium could meet in person for a GoldenEye General Assembly. All consortium members were invited to Sofia, Bulgaria, on 30 & 31 May, allowing us to visit a field trial site in the Panagyurishte district.
Sophie Sándor shares her experience about making the trip and, more importantly, about meeting her fellow consortium partners.
But before I tell you about my trip, I want to explain the GoldenEye project briefly.
The project aims to improve the sustainability and safety of mines. It bundles satellite observations with on-site sensing and drone inspections to achieve that. You can spot and address problems early on by analyzing the site in different spectra (visual, near-infrared, magnetic, etc.).
During the project, the GoldenAI platform will be piloted on five mining sites across Europe (Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Kosovo, and Romania) by 16 European companies and research partners.
The project addresses topics such as:
- Mineralogical knowledge
- Environmental impact
- Stability of slopes and tailings
- Determination of withdrawn rock volumes
Sitemark shares its expertise in flight planning, execution, and analysis. The delivered products are as diverse as generating 3D visuals (point clouds, volume, and elevation profile measurements) to high-resolution visual, thermal, multispectral orthomosaïc, and digital elevation maps and can be viewed on and downloaded from the Fuse platform.
So, full of expectations, I depart from Brussels Airport on Sunday, 29 May. It was my first time visiting Sofia, and I was immediately intrigued by the golden domes of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral when the plane approached Sofia Airport. This monument made it to my to-visit list.
I decided to take the underground to the hotel to soak in the local atmosphere as much as possible. Line 4 takes me directly from the airport to the City Center Stop, “Sofia University St Kliment Ohridski.” Later, I hear that the underground has only existed for four years.
After arriving at the hotel, I wandered about in the neighboring streets, where I tasted delicious local food while trying to find my way to the Cathedral. The inside of the Cathedral was as beautiful as the outside, with an interior displaying many religious icons. I was not disappointed.
The next day, Monday 30 May, I walk up to the meeting room lobby where the assembly will take place. The ambiance is fantastic; everyone is excited and cheerful to meet in person. We shake hands, chat away and give each other a warm welcome. After only seeing these people online, it is clear that nothing can replace face-to-face meetings.
We get a warm welcome message from Marko Paavola (VTT), the coordinator for GoldenEye, and a view of the schedule. It seems we’ll have two busy days ahead.
It is incredible what we have achieved since the project started, even during the period of lockdown. We continued working assiduously, planning, executing, and analyzing field trials, creating and testing prototypes, and optimizing. It is rewarding to see the results from all partners converging into one powerful platform and what data can be analyzed and extracted from it.
In preparation for Tuesday’s field trip, Prof. Kamen Bogdanov and ass. Prof. Stephen (Sofia University – SU) give an in-depth lecture about the area’s geological history. They explain that the Panagyurishte region is part of a magmatic and metallogenic belt and is copper-rich. It is built up by volcanic sequences and intrusions. The porphyry-copper deposits are connected to subvolcanic intrusions. Cu-Au and Cu ore deposits were mined during the last 50 years in the area.
On Tuesday 31 May, we drive about 80 km to the Panagyurishte area and visit one of the field trial sites. Prof. Kamen shows where to locate the faults in the rocks and explains how the miners previously extracted copper and the geological history using the geological map.
Meanwhile, the XRF spectrometer is demonstrated on a plant that only lives in copper-concentrated areas. These plants are a good indicator of the presence of copper. Several rock samples are also collected, demonstrating the presence of the mineral pyrite and others.
The SU drone pilot makes some videos and pictures of the group with his drone.
Taras Matselyukh (OPT/NET) tests the GoldenAI platform performance on the tablet, a platform similar to our future Field Link.
After having flown and processed the field trial site on our Fuse platform, it feels fulfilling to see the site live on screen and to explain its background and potential with all the combined scientific data and knowledge to support this in the GoldenAI platform.
All experts are brought together with a common goal, to make the world of mining better perceived by the public.
The next stop is a Cu-AU epithermal deposit field trial site. The geological map explains the geological and mining history, and we take rock samples. Unfortunately, at this site, we do not find the copper plant, so other means, like the presence of malachite, are used as a copper indicator. The power of the GoldenAI platform is also demonstrated at this field trial site.
On Wednesday morning, I fly back to Brussels, tired yet fulfilled and with many stories. The past few days were intensive but fruitful. It was nice to catch up with partners, exchange ideas and visions, and touch and visualize the results of our hard work.
The next time we see each other will be during our regular zoom meetings, but hopefully, we can do the workshops in person and meet again next year for the General Assembly.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.