MIRARCO linking the world to Canadian mining
On Dec. 7th, 2017, a high level delegation from Northeastern University (NEU) in China came to Laurentian University in Sudbury, to sign an international agreement to establish the China Canada Centre for Deep Mining Innovation (CCCDMI).
Madam Xiaomei Xiong (Secretary of the Party Committee, Northeastern University), along with four colleagues from the Northeastern University of China, signed the agreement in the presence of Laurentian’s Serge Demers, acting president and provost, Dr. Rui Wang, vice-president research and myself, president and CEO MIRARCO Mining Innovation.
Two weeks later, Canadian delegates Ross Sherlock of Metal Earth, Caleb Leduc of CROSH, Dr. Ming Cai of Laurentian University/MIRARCO and myself, met with officials at Northeastern University located in Shenyang, China.
A two-day networking event including an industry workshop was held. The purpose of the China Canada Centre for Deep Mining Innovation is to establish leading global research built on a collaboration platform in deep mining and to stimulate innovation and co-operation between industry and academic institutions in China and Canada. In 2006, Northeastern University ranked sixth among universities in China. Laurentian University is among the largest mining schools in Canada.
Three areas of interest initially identified were rock mechanics, geology and safety.
At the request of one of the industry partners, Shandong Gold, a fourth focus area was added; ecological mining, or as it is known in Canada, green mining. In earth sciences, Laurentian University’s Metal Earth is already breaking new ground in understanding metal deposit mechanisms. This fall, a long stream of seismic trucks were used in the Abitibi- Temiskaming area to map a cross section of the earth, down through the mantle.
Given that China’s Archean geology is similar to Canada’s Archean geologic province, discussions are under way in China to improve mapping of a Chinese gold-bearing region.
Mine safety is of paramount importance in Canada. In 2016, Ontario, with 40 operating mines in the province, had zero mining fatalities. Research will be conducted on safety technology such as vehicle proximity detectors, safety culture and comparisons between regulatory approaches in Canada and China.
In rock mechanics, the laboratory facilities of Northeastern University were indeed impressive. Prof. Xia-Ting Fung, the vice-president research at Northeastern University, is a former president of the International Society of Rock Mechanics and the lab has two true triaxial compression testing machines.
Coincidentally, much as Canada’s SNOLAB has an association with Laurentian University and is located at Vale’s Creighton mine, the Chinese equivalent of that lab resides deep within a mountain in China where the rock mechanics work is being done by Northeastern University – perhaps another link between Sudbury and Shenyang.
Northeastern University is “moving at the speed of trust,” which, as it turns out, is pretty fast! Four mining companies from Canada and four from China are being recruited to define problems to be solved and to provide in-field laboratories to advance innovation and to advance safe, productive and sustainable mining in both of our countries to make a difference to mining globally.
VIC PAKALNIS is president and CEO of MIRARCO Mining Innovation