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Sudbury bio-mining initiative lands funding to advance research centre

Greater Sudbury Development Corp throws support behind advancing environmentally sustainable mining
Mine waste centre conceptual
Conceptual of the Centre for Mine Waste Biotechnology (Supplied)

A recent Northern Ontario Business Award winner has received funding from the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation (GSDC) to help create an ambitious and innovative new element to the city’s mining industry.

The GSDC announced on Jan. 6 it is sending $120,000 to MIRARCO Mining Innovation to support the research work of Nadia Mykytczuk and her team in the creation of a proposed Centre for Mine Waste Biotechnology.

Mykytczuk, the interim CEO and president of MIRARCO, is a world expert on bioleaching – also called biomining – and mine remediation, an innovative method of extracting valuable metals from mine waste tailings using naturally occurring bacteria. It’s also an environmentally-friendly method of cleaning up these toxic legacy sites.

Mykytczuk hopes to house her ongoing research in a proposed complex that would provide dedicated space for biotech innnovators and entrepreneurs to test their technologies and fast-track them to commercialization.

MIRARCO is the Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corp., a non-for-profit entity for applied research in the mining industry. The group is located in the Cliff Fielding building on the campus of Laurentian University.

GSDC said the money is earmarked toward a Phase 3 Implementation Plan to advance the proposed centre to the next stage of funding.

Mykytczuk is partnering with Toronto-based BacTech Environmental on assembling a pyrrohotite (pronounced pir-uh-tayht) pilot plant in Sudbury that involves a mill flotation process designed to target nickel, cobalt and other saleable minerals, like silicates, from these waste piles. The plant is expected to be operational sometime this year.

BacTech tweeted in December that the level of interest in this research and development project is “very high. We expect to begin processing some pyrrhotite concentrates shortly.”

The GSDC news release also said Jeff Portelance has been appointed as the chair of the GSDC. He is the senior manager of corporate development at Civiltek Ltd. in Sudbury and joined the board in 2019.