Faculty of Science

Squeezing revenue out of a rock

A Surface Science Western (SSW) Research Scientist and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, Dr. Brian Hart recently received Collaborative Research and Development award of $1.5 million from NSERC to support a collaborative project to improve methods of extracting metals using advanced surface science technologies. The research, to be undertaken over the next four years in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Alberta, the Université de Laval and eight mining interests including individual companies - Glencore-Xstrata Zinc , Glencore-Xstrata Nickel, Agnico Eagle Mines, Teck Metals, IAMGOLD and Barrick Gold Corp – as well as COREM, a consortium of applied research for processing minerals, and the Canadian Mining Industry Research Organization (CAMIRO),  will seek to improve the ore recovery process and/or rationalize new mine development costs.

The cyclic nature of the metals market, the fact that valuable minerals are, today, more difficult to extract and the increasing time lag between investment and return contribute to skyrocketing costs in mine development. Today, mines recover anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of the total amount of the metal that is in the rock. The industrial challenge is recovering the remaining 10 to 40 percent.  This research will address the issue, and in so doing, will serve to increase industrial revenues and global competitiveness in the Canadian mining sector. (click here for more)