Fledgling nonprofit organisation the Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC) aims to reverse the significant decline of Canada’s reserves through its exploration initiative.
Government department Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) reports a reduction exceeding 80% in lead, zinc and silver reserves, while copper and nickel declined by over half in the past 25 years. Gold reserves in 2008 were around half those recorded in 1995.
“Reserves in Canada have declined substantially and continue to do so; however, this can be countered by putting technologies in place to better identify new ore deposits, both in remote and covered locations, and in deeper locations near existing infrastructure,” says CMIC executive director Tom Hynes.
Canada’s mining industry is a signifi- cant contributor to Canadian prosperity as it employs 308 000 workers in minerals extraction, processing and manufacturing, says the Mining Association of Canada economic affairs VP Paul Stothart. There- fore, development is crucial.
This year, the council aims to implement exploration initiative research projects, as well as define research priorities in its mining, processing and energy initiatives, establish research committees for the tailings and environmental steward- ship initiatives, and continue growth of its membership, which has grown substantially.
“The CMIC was established in February 2009 and is still in an active growth phase. It has increased its membership from 11 to 65 in the past year,” states Hynes.
The council intends to improve the competitiveness of the Canadian mining industry, which contributes about $75.2- billion to exports and some $40.3-billion to the country’s gross domestic product yearly, through the creation of additional research capacity by using virtual centres of excellence and interinstitutional and multidisciplinary collaborative research undertakings.
One such research undertaking was announced in January by the Oil Sands Tailings Consortium, which is a CMIC member. The initiative aims to advance tailings management and involves the NRCan, petroleum producer Imperial Oil, energy and petrochemicals group Shell Canada, sustainable energy company Suncor Energy, crude oil producer Syncrude Canada, diversified miner Teck Resources and Calgary-based energy company Total E&P Canada.
This initiative is intended to foster innovation and collaboration in research and development in the tailings field.
“The issue is not whether we can manage tailings – the issue is whether it can be done better. This relationship is a critical step towards tailings solutions that will accelerate reclamation, using the most advanced environmental measures,” said Shell oil sands development VP John Broadhurst.
The companies have agreed to make tailings technical information more broadly available to industry members, academia, regulators and others interested in collaborating on tailings solutions; to collaborate on tailings-related research and development and technology among companies and with research agencies; to eliminate monetary and intellectual property barriers preventing the use of knowledge and methods related to tailings technology and research and development; and to work to develop an appropriate framework so that tailings information is organised, verified through peer review and kept current.
“This is a tremendously positive step for research into improved technology for managing tailings. These companies are to be congratulated on their foresight and willingness to work together in this way,” said University of Alberta engineering dean Dr David Lynch.
Further, Hynes explains the CMIC is a partnership between industry, govern- ment and the research community, as each group is necessary for the success of the council’s endeavours.
For the rest of this article, please go to the MiningWeekly.com website: http://www.miningweekly.com/article/council-focused-on-improving-canadas-mineral-reserve-2011-07-22