Space and Mining Industry Collaborating to Explore Battery Mineral Extraction Sites with Satellites

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With transport being the UK’s biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the transition from conventional engines to Electric Vehicles (EVs) is imperative but will bring an unprecedented increase in demand for battery metals. The Satellite Applications Catapult is leading on a space and mining industry collaboration that will use satellite data combined with advanced analytics to increase the identification of these metals both in the UK and internationally.

Satellites for Batteries, one of 21 projects recently announced by the UK Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP), will look to create a cost-effective and environmentally conscious solution for exploration, following on from a previous research study in 2018.

The Catapult will be working together with innovative mineral exploration company Cornish Lithium, data science and artificial intelligence company Decision Lab, leading space technology companies CGG Satellite Mapping, Terrabotics, and Pixalytics, and with support from University of Exeter’s Camborne School of Mines and the British Geological Survey.

The team will be exploring the use of remote sensing with other data to generate a prospectivity map within part of Cornwall. Additional software developments will bring automation to the workflows and machine learning algorithms. Through this, the project aims to identify new target areas for battery metal extraction to meet the growing demand for critical minerals.

Alastair Lees, Head of Extractive Industries at the Satellite Applications Catapult, said:

This innovative and exciting collaboration will expand on an initial study in 2018 to investigate whether lithium sources can be identified using space data, but now we are adding advanced artificial intelligence and exploring a wider range of metals. By creating opportunities in the UK and internationally to improve the way mining companies locate these critical minerals, we are also supporting the UK’s green recovery and 2030 commitments to CO2 reduction.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “We want the UK to be a world leader in space technology which is why we are supporting our most ambitious innovators who are developing first of a kind technologies to help solve some of our greatest challenges.

“This funding will unshackle our most entrepreneurial space scientists so that they can transfer their revolutionary ideas into world class products and services, while helping to boost the UK economy.