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Laurentian University hosts inaugural meeting for $4M Biomining Network

Researchers will present to industry stakeholders on research priorities and visit research sites
Sudbury’s Vale Living with Lakes Centre will host researchers and mining industry stakeholders for a two-day symposium on biotechnologies for mine waste stabilization.

On Aug. 2, the Vale Living with the Lakes Centre in Sudbury will welcome its academic and industry partners for a two-day Elements of Biomining (EBM) research symposium.

The national network received $4M in funding from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, to develop biotechnologies for mine waste stabilization, and the recovery of valuable metals like nickel, copper and zinc.

To achieve this goal, EBM, which is comprised of researchers from the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and Laurentian University, will harness the capabilities of naturally occurring microbial communities.

The Laurentian project lead and NOHFC industrial research chair in biomining, bioremediation and science communication, Dr. Nadia Mykytczuk, will focus on one of three key themes in the network to develop in situ bioleaching and bioremediation systems. These can be operated directly on tailing sites, of which there are thousands in Ontario alone.

In fact, the value of residual nickel in Sudbury tailings amounts to $7 billion, while the cleanup cost of their associated acid mine drainage, is an estimated $2 to $5 billion. There is significant economic interest, therefore, to use the ecofriendly processes being developed by EBM for remediation and base metal extraction.

Over the two days of the symposium, the network students and scientists — including project lead Dr. Vlad Papangelakis and theme leader Dr. Elizabeth Edwards — will present to representatives from Vale, Glencore, Hatch, Environmental Resources Management, and the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation. They will also discuss research priorities, plan related work, and visit research sites.