March/April 2008

New UBC Earth Systems Science building

By A. Gordon

A number of major minerals companies recently announced that they will collectively invest over $20 million to help create a new Earth Systems Science (ESS) building at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The move, by companies including Breakwater Resources Ltd., Goldcorp Inc., Imperial Metals Corp., Lundin Group and Pan American Silver Corporation, is aimed at supporting the thriving minerals industry and tackling the growing shortage of qualified geosciences professionals.

The new $75 million facility – set to begin construction in 2009 – will house UBC’s earth and ocean sciences department (EOS), renowned for its global leadership in sustainability research and education and its longstanding contribution to Canada’s minerals industry. Recent EOS discoveries include innovations in locating kimberlite and increasing the absorption of carbon dioxide in mine tailings to reduce greenhouse gases. It will provide a facility for research and innovation in sustainable mining and mineral exploration practices and help address the mineral industry’s growing labour shortage by educating future generations of highly skilled earth science professionals.

“As a UBC geology student, much of my thesis research was conducted off-campus due to a lack of space,” said Liane Boyer, a UBC geology graduate who now works for Kennecott Canada. “There is an urgent need for increased research facilities to support students and faculty in their research activities on campus. To have everyone under one roof exchanging ideas, sharing expertise and learning would greatly contribute to the overall growth of the program and wider minerals community.”

“The ESS Building represents an investment in the future of the Canadian and international mineral exploration communities,” said Simon Peacock, dean of UBC’s Faculty of Science. “It builds upon the longstanding partnership between the minerals industry and UBC. Housing high-tech research labs, lecture halls, teaching and breakout rooms and shared space, the ESS Building will provide undergraduate and graduate students a world-class education in the earth sciences.”

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