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Damen Shipyards Group has launched a new 42-month research and development project to design and build a robotic underwater mining prototype, along with related launch and recovery equipment.

Launched as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, the Viable Alternative Mine Operating System (VAMOS) project looks to mine unexploited mineral resources.

According to Damen, the estimated cost of the project is approximately €12.6m.

"The estimated cost of the project is approximately €12.6m." 

The robotic, underwater mining prototype will be used to perform field tests at four EU mine sites and will provide a better option for extracting currently unreachable and/or uneconomic mineral deposits.

Three of the mine sites are inland inactive submerged mineral deposits and the other is offshore.

While improving the existing available underwater sensing, spatial awareness, navigational and positioning technology, VAMOS will also provide an intergrated solution for real-time monitoring of the parameters associated with potential environmental impacts.

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A consortium comprising 17 project partners from nine EU countries will collaborate for the project under the coordination of BMT Group and the Technical management of Soil Machine Dynamics.

A member of the Damen Shipyards Group, Damen Dredging Equipment will lead the system specification and architecture phase where the specifications and integration of the mining vehicle prototype and the launch and recovery system will be defined.

Image: The VAMOS project is aimed at designing and building a robotic, underwater mining prototype. Photo: courtesy of Damen Shipyards Group.