$5.1M NSERC grant to fund collaborative research project

NSERC grant announcement

On May 14, Gary Goodyear, Canada’s minister of state for science and technology, announced that the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) presented the collaborative, nationwide research initiative, dubbed the “Footprints project,” with a $5.1-million grant – the largest ever awarded to date.

The project will pool resources from industry, academia and government to develop new tools for remotely sensing and assessing mineral deposits far below the surface based on their subtle signals, or footprints.

Funds are awarded through NSERC’s Collaborative Research and Development program.

The NSERC funding will match close to $7 million in cash and in-kind contributions from Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC) sponsors. The initial grant application to NSERC included 17 Canadian universities and 24 industry partners. Since the project won official approval, the numbers of participating universities and industry partners have grown to 24 and 27, respectively.

“Ultimately, we believe the work we’re pursuing can improve the way we approach mineral exploration and resource development in Canada and around the world,” said Michael Lesher, research chair in mineral exploration and professor of economic geology at Laurentian University. Over 24 universities will participate in the research collaboration, under the leadership of Lesher and Mark Hannington, Goldcorp chair in economic geology and professor of earth sciences at the University of Ottawa.

“The unprecedented level of collaboration among the exploration industry, service providers, government institutions, researchers and universities sets a new standard for our industry,” said Francois Robert, vice-president and chief geologist, global exploration, Barrick Gold Corporation. As one of the architects of the project, Robert used CMIC’s industry-driven approach to innovation and brought in 27 industry sponsors.

The partners include 14 service providers that were involved in the project from the early stages. “The buy-in of a broad range of service providers as well as industry sponsors was crucial to ensuring the project had a commercialization component,” said Alan Galley, CMIC’s exploration research director. “Most research proposals include acquiring data and generating knowledge, but Footprints includes commercialization as the extra step towards true innovation.”

 “The CMIC Footprints project represents a major milestone in the development of collaborative research projects,” said John Thompson, chair of CMIC ’s board. “NSERC’s recent decision to match the extensive funding from industry is a testament to CMIC’s approach of partnership between industry, academia and government.”

CMIC aims to produce a fundamental shift in how innovation takes place, with the mining industry defining the major technical challenges it needs to address, and CMIC matching proposed solutions to multiple funding sources. Project stakeholders share a 10-year strategic vision of parlaying the success of the project to develop a more permanent, national minerals-related research network.

Source: Canada Mining Innovation Council Press Release