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Mega millions for Laurentian U mineral exploration research

Transformative research
Research scientists at Laurentian University are looking to develop microalgae on mining grounds for use as biodiesel feedstock and health industry biochemicals. (Photo supplied)

The largest single investment ever in Laurentian University (LU) will help launch what the Sudbury post-secondary institution is calling an “unprecedented research effort to help the mineral industry make lower risk exploration investments in Canada and abroad.”

The $104-million project received the university’s largest ever single investment — $49.2 million — from the federal government’s $900-million Canada First Research Excellence Fund.

That amount, which was announced Sept. 6, is combined with $55 million in investments — in cash and in-kind contributions — from 22 partners from academia, industry and government. 

The seven-year initiative is named Metal Earth. 

he project will see a team of more than 100 professionals and students compare data about the planet’s crust, a first-of-its-kind experiment in Canada to use geoscience to produce 4D images of the Earth — from the surface where we live to the mantle beneath our feet.

Laurentian is calling it an “MRI of the Earth” to identify key metallogenic differences between regions on the planet.

Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre, in a news release, said LU is already No. 1 in Canada for economic geology research funding and “among the best in the world.”
“We are proud to support Laurentian and its Mineral Exploration Research Centre at the Harquail School of Earth Sciences in becoming the undisputed global leader in mineral exploration research,” Lefebvre said.

The announcement was made in conjunction with an earlier announcement that Franco-Nevada CEO David Harquail’s family’s Midas Touch Foundation was donating $10 million in the university’s Department of Earth Sciences.

“(This) is the largest exploration research program ever undertaken in Canada,” Laurentian’s president, Dominc Giroux, said in a news release.

“We thank the federal government for its growing commitment to science and innovation.”

Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré said the federal investment will lead to more exploration expenditures and investment in the Canadian mining sector, as well as higher discovery rates and the development of new mines.

“Findings from Metal Earth will be transferable around the world and position Canada as an authoritative leader in the global quest for metals,” he said.