May 2011


Realizing Canada’s full potential: Collaboration key to advancing innovation

By Tom Hynes

In an effort to realize Canada’s full potential in mining research, three organizations are coming together to document the hard facts. The Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC), the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) have agreed to compile two catalogues of data on the potential funding sources and capacity for mining and mining-related research in Canada.

CMIC and NRCan were met with unanimous approval when they presented their proposals to the IGWG at a meeting in March. They agreed that web-based reports will benefit the research community, government departments and companies associated with the mining industry.

The first catalogue is intended to publicize potential funding sources for mining-related research in Canada. Some sources (such as NSERC) are well-known, but other grant resources go untapped simply because many are not aware of them.

A recent study by NRCan found that the mining industry is not using all its available research opportunities, and a major reason for this includes a lack of knowledge about research programs and concerns about complex application processes. The proposed catalogue will aim to address these concerns. The report will also be useful to provincial, territorial and federal officials who currently have no easy way to access an archive of available research sources in their own jurisdictions.

The second catalogue intends to better identify research groups, facilities, specialized equipment and existing research programs across Canada. As with the first catalogue, the input of provinces, territories and federal departments will be critical, but this catalogue will also need to draw on contributions from universities and research centres (many of them CMIC members), as well as the private sector (mining companies, service providers, equipment manufacturers, etc.).

The IGWG member provinces, territories and federal representatives have committed to provide the data from their individual jurisdictions. Where known, they will also consider whether taxation issues or regulatory implications (such as development expenditures) are relevant factors in the provision of research, or the use of research funds, in their jurisdictions.

The reports will be made available in an electronic format and may make considerable use of web links to existing information by provincial, territorial, federal or other agencies. In addition to IGWG, NRCan and CMIC resources, work on the proposals is being supported by volunteers from 3M Mining and CIM.

This catalogue will provide the mining and research communities, and associated regulatory and policy departments with the knowledge of the potential that lies within Canada. The organizers hope it will ensure the better use of existing facilities and identify gaps for future consideration.

Any relevant information (including, but not limited to, research funding sources; data on specialized equipment of facilities, including those for other industries or purposes that may also be relevant to mining or exploration; researchers or research groups working in Canada) that interested parties feel would benefit these initiatives can be forwarded to Michel Plouffe at

Any such contributions would be much appreciated. Organizers aim to have one or both catalogues ready to present at the 2011 Energy and Mines Ministers Conference being held in July in Alberta.

Visit the CMIC WEBSITE  at

Tom Hynes
Tom Hynes has worked in the uranium and base metals industries, and has been a provincial regulator and a federal government research manager. He is the executive director of the Canada Mining Innovation Council.

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