Building relationships with key industry stakeholders will be instrumental to CMIC in its efforts towards securing Canada’s role as a leader in research
and innovation. One such relationship, with the Oil Sands Tailings Consortium, will extend CMIC’s reach even further and has the potential of helping with
the advancement of its own Tailings Management Initiative.
Collaboration on R&D efforts
Canadian Natural Resources, Imperial Oil, Shell Canada, Suncor Energy, Syncrude Canada, Teck Resources and Total E&P Canada recently announced that
they will partner in a unified effort to advance tailings management. This collaboration reflects the companies’ commitment towards operating in a socially
and environmentally responsible manner and responds to the Alberta government’s policy to affect the timely reclamation of tailings.
The consortium’s efforts will foster innovation and collaboration in R&D relating to tailings. “The issue is not whether we can manage tailings; the
issue is whether we can do it better,” says John Broadhurst, vice-president of Shell’s Oil Sands Development. “We believe that this relationship is a key
step towards tailings solutions that will allow us to accelerate the pace of reclamation using the most advanced environmental measures.”
Each company has pledged to share its existing tailings research and technology and to remove any barriers that would hinder collaborating on future
R&D efforts. The joining of forces and sharing of scientific expertise by these industry giants has the potential to produce greater results more
quickly. The companies have agreed to the following core principles to guide the actions of the research collaboration:
• Make tailings technical information more broadly available to industry members, academia, regulators and others interested in collaborating on tailings
• Collaborate on tailings-related R&D and technology with companies outside the consortium as well as with research agencies.
• Eliminate monetary and intellectual property barriers to the use of knowledge and methods related to tailings technology and R&D.
• Work to develop an appropriate framework whereby tailings information is organized, verified through peer review and kept current.
“This is a tremendously positive step for research into improved technology for managing tailings,” says David Lynch, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at
the University of Alberta. “These companies are to be congratulated for their foresight and willingness to work together in this way.”
Existing tailings research and development will serve as the knowledge base for the collaboration, and research objectives are planned to be finalized
early this year. Further information can be obtained through Sean Beardow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other research initiatives moving ahead
CMIC is focusing on six major initiatives, all of which are in various stages of development. These large, multi-year, multi-partner programs centre on
exploration, mining (mineral extraction), mineral processing, green mining (environment), tailings and energy. Each initiative is driven by an industry
champion and committee tasked with keeping a strong focus on the need for innovative technology to support a profitable, safe and environmentally
responsible industry. This strong support is critical to the success of the CMIC initiatives.
CMIC’s Exploration Innovation Consortium has recently defined its major research themes. For deep, mature camps, the consortium will address
multidisciplinary exploration footprints (deposit); “deep mapping” techniques to unravel deep 3D geology in mature camps; and the development of robust and
reliable down-hole data collection that is delivered in real time. For remote and covered deposits, it will focus on multidisciplinary terrain footprints
(regional); mapping through cover, data integration and cover mapping; detection thresholds of key characteristics (data density); and secondary dispersion
mechanisms, tools and techniques.
The mining and processing initiatives have recently identified champions who are now in the process of building their respective committees for their
• Mining Initiatives: Alex Henderson, general manager of mining and milling technology, Vale
• Processing Initiative: Rob Henderson, vice-president of technology, Kinross
Not quite as advanced as the others, the Energy Efficiency Initiative is in the process of discussing a potential champion with one of our member
companies, and the Environmental Management and Tailings Management initiatives have yet to identify champions, but they are actively pursuing potential
candidates for these positions.
CMIC anticipates that all of its initiative committees will be in place and active within the next several months and working to define the long-term
R&D needs of the industry.
For further information on CMIC or its initiatives, contact Michel Plouffe at email@example.com.
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.