Today’s mineral ICT research focuses on the development of tools that increase the autonomy of extraction and ore processing (such as driverless haul trucks, automated loading systems, remote control systems for ore processing, sensors to monitor the production front, etc), facilitate rapid data evaluation in remote control rooms (e.g. new augmented reality applications) and allow a better understanding of ore bodies (e.g., geological modelling and 3D visualization). These research efforts will push the technological and economic feasibility of mineral extraction to greater depths, but they lack the “paradigm change” that is often referred to as a basic requirement if the truly extreme geo-environmental conditions are to be mastered by technology.
The FET ICT Programme is a “pathfinder for new ideas and themes for long-term research in the area of information and communication technologies." It promotes high risk research, “offset by potential breakthrough with high technological or societal impact”. In particular FET Proactive fosters “novel non-conventional approaches and foundational research in selected themes in response to emerging societal and industrial needs.” The project mission of EXTRACT-IT is to identify multidisciplinary research topics in the cross-section of future ultra-deep mining and ICT. These research topics will be exploratory in nature, representing a challenge way beyond what is considered “applied research” today. They will fuel ICT research of fundamental character and will provide novel pathfinder topics for researchers within the ICT and mining research communities. Furthermore, the project will initiate a dialogue between these two research communities, bridging the gap and fostering synergies.