By Toni Müller and Vera Lay (TU Bergakademie Freiberg)
In early spring 2020, TUBAF-representatives participated at two international scientific conferences in the US and Australia aiming at different target groups with backgrounds in mining and geophysics. We presented the outcomes and future plans of the BSUIN project and discussed potential collaborations.
SME Conference and Expo in Phoenix 2020, Phoenix (USA), February 23- 26
Each year the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration in North America hosts the largest mining related conference and exposition in North America. In multiple sessions topics of mining, exploration, material science, research and education are presented and discussed with about thousands of conference attendees from all over the world. Among the exhibitors were mining companies and suppliers as well as laboratories and the North American mining universities and schools. The conference is a stage for the industry and research and educational facilities to connect.
For this reason, the conference was a suitable place to present the BSUIN project and especially the Underground Laboratories (ULs) cooperating in it and to raise awareness about the upcoming network of the European Underground Laboratories association (EUL). The EUL association is the currently planned non-profit network organization, which will continue to bundle the information of the ULs and associated partners after the completion of the BSUIN project.
A presentation was given in the international session, as well as an article for the proceedings emphasizing the structural characterization of the ULs in the project.
The presentation also gave us the chance for more detailed examples for research projects still running in our mines, showing the abilities and experiences of the ULs in the network. Outside the conference, the exhibition and social events offered many opportunities for interesting discussions on our upcoming network and often specific research projects described in the presentation had been in the focus. As the association will emphasis not only on research but also education and exchange of researchers and students, the idea is to connect also worldwide which includes American research and education institutions. Overall, we had been able to increase the visibility of the BSUIN network.
The outcome of the BSUIN project and the merger of the ULs will be watched and in the further course of the networking in the EUL, an international cooperation for the exchange of researchers including North American can be envisaged.
However, the current focus of our BSUIN-related work is clearly on the successful cooperation and coordination of ULs on a European level as the structures, needs and opportunities are various but also underly fundamental similarities.
Seismix 2020 conference in Fremantle (Australia) March 15-19
The biannual Seismix conference was a great opportunity to intensively discuss with key players in geophysical and particularly seismic research. This year, the conference took place in Fremantle, Australia from March 15-19. We presented a poster “Geophysical Characterization of BSUIN Underground Laboratories: Geophysics at the Research and Educational Mine FLB Reiche Zeche in Freiberg, Germany” during the whole conference at the expo with dedicated presentation time on every day.
In general, the Seismix conference covers geophysical topics from seismic imaging for various conditions and processes to innovative acquisition and processing techniques. The typical organization of the conference involving about 150 participants allows for intensive exchange between young and experienced researchers and decision-makers from universities and companies.
Due to the most recent developments of the Corona-pandemic travel restrictions started, only about 30 % of the planned attendees could physically join the conference. The organizers from Curtin University (Perth, Australia) made a very successful effort to include digital formats into the meeting.
During the conference, we had intensive discussions with experts from Europe (Sweden, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Spain), South Africa and Australia.
Besides reaching a variety of target groups from different research backgrounds (mineral exploration, (geo)technical, methodological, structural), we discussed unique underground conditions and the related challenges and opportunities.
The importance of the BSUIN-network and it’s approaches and future developments were widely acknowledged. Most potential for future cooperation with the BSUIN-project are seen in Europe. First, other regions (e.g. Australia) have a strong focus on (new) mining and at the moment less interest in a post-mining usage of underground space or related projects. Although this might change during the future decades. Second, during discussions with European scientists we found some similarities in project approaches so that a future potential cooperation within the BSUIN project is more likely.
In total, both international conferences were an important part for the outreach activities within the BSUIN project. By presenting characterization information (geophysical data and applications at Seismix 2020 and information on the research conducted at the ULs at SME 2020), we made this information available to a wider (research) community. Also, we foster strong personal relationships within the scientific community that will help to strengthen and potentially widen the BSUIN network with its unique offers.