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MDRU awarded $2m NSERC funding for mineral exploration research in British Columbia

Floatplane at Dugan Lake at Williams Lake British Columbia Canada. Stock image.

The Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) announced Thursday the award of C$2.7 million ($2.07m) from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance program, matching C$1.3m in industry cash contributions. 

The project aims to improve exploration success for porphyry copper deposits in British Columbia (BC). Over the next thirty years, copper demand is expected to more than double, and significant new resources of copper need to be found around the world.

This research project aims to improve the efficiency and pace of porphyry copper discovery in BC by providing mineral exploration companies with new tools and knowledge to identify the most fertile deposits, and “vector” towards those deposits.

This project is supported by a number of leading minerals and instrumentation companies, including Anglo American, BHP, Brixton Metals Corporation, Centerra Gold Inc., Fortescue Metals Group, Freeport-McMoRan Inc., Gibraltar Mines Ltd, New Gold Inc., Happy Creek Minerals Ltd., Jaxon Mining Inc., Newmont Corporation, Nicola Mining Inc., NorthWest Copper Corp., Rio Tinto Exploration Canada Inc. and SciAps Inc. 

In addition to the industry partners, the research will be carried out in collaboration with UBC faculty Dr. Ken Hickey and Prof. Dominique Weis (Director of the Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research), Dr. Pilar Lecumberri-Sanchez (University of Alberta), Dr. Eva Enkelmann (University of Calgary) and Prof. Peter Hollings (Lakehead University).

“This project is the largest NSERC Alliance Grant received by UBC to date,” UBC Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science Head of Department Dr. Philippe Tortell said in a media statement.

“It will build new research collaborations across multiple groups in EOAS and industry, using a variety of scientific approaches to address critical mineral needs for future renewable energy systems,” Tortell said. “The project will also support advanced training of many graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, who will be the research and industry leaders of tomorrow.”

“The project is a significant opportunity to collaborate with the minerals industry and researchers across Canada to advance geoscientific understanding of this highly endowed region and will provide the tools for further discoveries in British Columbia, a key source of future facing metals,“ said Alex Neufeld, Board Chair of MDRU.

The project will train three postdoctoral research fellows and eleven postgraduate students in order to provide highly-qualified geoscientists for the Canadian minerals industry.

The research team will be involved in significant field work and laboratory analyses, which will be integrated into new maps and datasets delivered throughout the duration of the project through 2025.

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