By IAN ROSS
Xstrata Nickel matched its cross-town Sudbury rival CVRD-Inco with a $5 million donation towards Laurentian University’s proposed mining centre of excellence.
Mike Romaniuk, Xstrata’s vice-president of Sudbury operations, delivered a surfboard cheque to Laurentian president Judith Woodsworth on Dec. 18 before a large gathering of mining executives, labour leaders and university researchers and politicians including Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Bartolucci.
Centre of Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) will be headquartered on the Laurentian campus and will focus on key areas of research in mineral exploration, mining tele-robotics, mine process engineering, deep mining and environmental reclamation.
Last March, Inco pledged $5 million toward into the proposed $30 million initiative with Queen’s Park committing $10 million and a combined $250,000 donation coming from the university and the City of Greater Sudbury. The CEMI project is still waiting on a sizable contribution from the federal government.
Romaniuk says Xstrata is always looking for ways to find ore deposits and some fundamental research is necessarily, particularly in the area of geophysics to find new tools and techniques.
With mining in the Sudbury Basin always moving deeper and deeper, Romaniuk says research is needed to ensure resources at depth can be safely extracted, particularly with better mining and ground support methods.
If Xstrata puts its Onaping Depth nickel-copper project into production, excavation will reach down 9,000 feet.
For 2007, the company has approved a $14 million Sudbury Basin exploration budget which includes drilling 47 “high-quality targets.” Romaniuk adds about 40 per cent of Xstrata’s land position has yet to have a single drill hole.
“We’ve got a lot of opportunity.”
With individual research projects yet to be finalized, developing new systems to improve productivity, systems and reduce costs is a key CEMI focus, he says, as well as environment and land reclamation research work to reduce the impact of mining on the landscape.
CEMI is still looking for its inaugural executive director.
Woodsworth says an interim advisory board, which includes Xstrata, has compiled a short list of candidates with international experience and expects to announce CEMI’s new boss “very shortly.”