10 April 2020
Despite Covid-19 lockdown, the Cornish Institute of Engineers 2020 AGM took place - online.
An invited lecture was presented by Steve Henley, on the UNEXMIN project and discoveries at Ecton.
And a video on the Ecton trials of the UNEXMIN UX-1 robot.
A selection of videos from the UNEXMIN trial in May 2019.
A booklet giving more general information on the UNEXMIN project can be downloaded from here 16 October 2019:
A paper on the UNEXMIN trial has been published in Mineral Planning, No.185, October 2019. This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 690008. "Robots explore flooded mine", by S. Henley. A PDF copy can be downloaded here22 August 2019:
It is with great sadness that we record the death on 22nd August, after a long illness, of Reginald Wynniatt-Husey, EMET trustee and treasurer, and a good friend to us all. He will be sorely missed.July 2019:
A video has now been prepared showcasing the Ecton trials of the UNEXMIN robots. Please click here to view or download.June 2019:
The month of May saw Ecton study centre become a version of Houston Mission control, with the UNEXMIN submersible robots diving into the depths of the mine. A shipping container was rented for the month to act as secure storage as well as an engineering workshop to carry out maintenance of the two robots which were used. EMET had constructed launch platforms at three sites underground: the Great Shaft, the winding shaft, and the pipe workings. Altogether ten dives were achieved, and an enormous volume of new data were obtained including literally millions of images from the five cameras mounted on each robot, as well as scientific data from on-board instruments. Shafts, cross-cuts, and mined-out regions were mapped in detail by sonar and structured-light sources (laser stripes).
Geology and archaeology have yielded a number of surprises among the high-qualty data recovered, which EMET and UNEXMIN consortium scientists will be working on for years to come. Among the many highlights of the month, Ruth George MP (Labour, High Peak) paid a visit and saw the robots in operation underground as well as at Mission Control.
Please click here for more detail and pictures, and for John Barnatt's summary archaeological report.
19th November 2018:
Mark Hudson of Geoterra brought his Nautilus ROV to Ecton for a preliminary exploration of two of the shafts and the pipe. The first dive was in the pumping shaft, with the ROV descending to about 50 metres depth. No serious obstacles were encountered, though it found a few timbers including the remains of some staging which might be a hazard for UNEXMIN as there appear to be a number of loose rocks.
At times, visibility was affected by a large amount of calcite 'snow' - from calcite that crystallises on the water surface and sinks whenever disturbed. It accumulates on the sides and any horizontal surfaces within the shaft, and movement of the ROV disturbed it. Care will need to be taken to avoid such disturbance as much as possible in the UNEXMIN trials. In the winding shaft and the pipe, the water was much clearer. Geometry of the pipe is more complex than it appears from surface, and the ROV only explored to fairly shallow depths to avoid risk of snagging the umbilical cable. It appears that there may be at least two routes leading downwards, as well as side passages. There is much for UNEXMIN to explore!
Major works have now been completed, on restoration of the entrance to Deep Ecton adit, which was becoming structurally unsafe.
This work was carried out by a local contractor D-Geo,
overseen on behalf of EMET by Nick Hardie of Hard Rock Mining Ltd, with the arching
rebuild led by Peter Roe a master mason from Swaledale. The work was monitored by John Barnatt, who did the archaeological
watching brief that was a requirement of Historic England, as the entrance lies within a Scheduled Monument.
26th June 2018:
Richard Shaw of EMET was in Finland this month for the first live trials of the UNEXMIN submersible, in the flooded Kaatiala pegmatite mine. His specific focus was to see the launch and recovery methods, which are likely to be similar to those that will be needed at Ecton. Launching used a standard small hydraulic crane
6th May 2018:
In preparation for the UNEXMIN pilot tests to take place in 2019, it is necessary to rebuild the stone arching of the outermost few metres of the Deep Ecton adit. This is to be done by a 'cut and cover' method, digging a trench, rebuilding the stone arch, and then re-filling the trench. This will necessitate partial or complete demolition of a small ruined stone building which was originally a part of a dairy/creamery complex on this site. Before this can be done, we need to make a detailed archaeological record. This will consist of a series of photographs, and we also plan to produce a 3D model from a large set of photographs of the exterior and interior of the building, using Photomodeller software, which we previously used to generate a 3D model of the dressing-floor wall. A preliminary set of photographs were taken for this purpose on 4th May, and a further series of photos may be taken when the trees around the northern gable end have been removed.
29 Sept 2017:
Over the summer, a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey was carried out over the top of Ecton Hill by TerraVision with the principal purpose of locating any previously undetected ancient shallow underground mine workings. A number of traverses crossed the area in which these were suspected and in which some known workings had already been identified. Apart from detecting very clearly these known workings, a number of new targets were identified. Although most of these are too deep for archaeological excavation, the Trust now has an opportunity to try to match them against existing surveys. The GPR work also provided unexpected evidence of geological structures on the hill which potentially can be linked with geology observed in the accessible underground workings. The survey was carried out by Natalie Staffurth and Daniel Sherwin of Terravision, and Dan's later de-briefing session with us was very much appreciated!
6 August 2017:
UNEXMIN project - article in The Guardian
5 August 2017: Filming in Deep Ecton
On 1st August a team from Boomerang visited Deep Ecton to carry out filming underground for a documentary series they are making, intended for broadcast on Channel 5 later this year. This coincided with another visit by Mark Hudson of Geoterra, as well as Stuart Cadge of GeoSLAM, for further laser scanning for 3D computer modelling of accessible parts of Ecton Mine, in connection with the UNEXMIN project.
1 July 2017: Laser scan survey of Deep Ecton and Salts Level
On 27th and 28th June 2017, Mark Hudson, MD of Geoterra, assisted by John Barnatt and Richard Shaw of EMET, carried out a full laser scan of the accessible parts of Deep Ecton, the ladderway, and Salts Level. Preliminary images show that the survey has produced an excellent 3D model, for the first time linking the two levels with an accurate and detailed graphical representation, and providing data to be combined with a 3D survey of the flooded parts of the mine (which we expect to obtain from the UNEXMIN project).
4 May 2016: UNEXMIN consortium visit to Deep Ecton
On 3rd May 2016, there was a visit to Ecton by members of the UNEXMIN consortium to help them decide on some details of the robot design and on methods for transport, launch, and recovery of the robot.
Click here for more.
31 March 2016: Dressing floor progress - 3D model from photos
On 22 March 2016, Mike McLoughlin of Rockmate Ltd visited Ecton Mine to run tests of software to generate 3D computer models from a series of overlapping photographs. From 49 overlapping high-resolution photos of the restored dressing-floor wall he was able to produce a detailed 3D model, which he has made available to EMET.
1 Feb. 2016: Robots Delve Hidden Depths of Flooded Mines
Historic Ecton Copper Mine in Staffordshire Receives EU Research Project Funding
Ecton Mine Educational Trust (EMET) has become a consortium member for the €5M (£3.5M) UNEXMIN project for
underwater exploration of flooded mines using submersible remote-controlled robots, miniaturised and adapted from
deep sea technology. It will enable a full survey of the submerged workings, to gain geological and archaeological
It starts with a meeting in February 2016 at Miskolc University, Hungary, who are coordinating the project. This is followed by pilot deployments at mines in Finland, Portugal and Slovenia in progressively more challenging conditions concluding with a full-scale study at Ecton in early 2018.
Dressing Floor Discoveries
This is just a preliminary note. Archaeological work on the wall behind the Dressing Floors has revealed ore hoppers and ore chutes whose presence had not been suspected. At least one is very well preerved, including the wood of the ore chute - last used more than 100 years ago.
2015: Ecton now has entries in Wikipedia and on LinkedIn.
2015: Boulton & Watt engine house at Ecton. Over the last few months, intensive archaeological and restoration work has been carried out on the engine house, by the National Trust in collaboration with the Peak National Park Authority, and volunteers. On Friday 6th June there was a formal 'opening' by Francis Pryor MBE (the Time Team archaeologist), at which the restoration and archaeological work were shown and explained by Paul Mortimer (NT), John Barnatt (PDNPA), and colleagues in both organisations as well as EMET and EHFSA. Both outside and inside the building, the National Trust has erected a series of explanatory boards which interpret the history and explain the engineering and geological features, as well as the broader environmental context of the Ecton area.