MIRARCO Mining Innovation CEO arrives at Mine Waste Technology Center confident in capital investment
Canadian experts in the field of biomining hope to break ground on a mine waste technology center in Sudbury by the end of this year.
Nadia Mykytczuk, president of MIRARCO Mining Innovation, spoke at the Provincial Standing Committee on Fiscal and Economic Affairs in Sudbury on Jan. 30 when she spoke about the $38 million dollar innovation center. He said he was following the schedule. Government’s 2024 pre-budget hearing.
Mykytczuk provides an environmentally friendly zero-waste solution for extracting valuable minerals from mine waste.
She is working on a specialized research field on bioleaching processes. This process has the potential to open up huge untapped opportunities in the mining industry. It’s about extracting millions of dollars worth of valuable minerals left behind in rock waste piles known as abandoned tailings. Explore mining sites while solving environmental heritage issues.
These minerals cannot be extracted using conventional processing methods, but can be separated cost-effectively using biological means.
During the hearing, Mikichuk did not say where the center would be built, how many designers, builders and industry partners would be involved, or how the project would be financed, but said he expected significant funding to arrive sometime this year. I predict that will happen.
Mikichuk declined an interview request, citing his busy schedule after the hearing.
He told the hearing panelists that MIRARCO has received more than $40 million in grant applications and investor pitches, which are being reviewed by various federal and state funding agencies and the private sector. .
Some funds have flowed in.
At last year’s PDAC mining show, her organization raised $1.6 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund and Sudbury nickel miner Vale Base Metals to establish an industrial research chair program, led by Mykytczuk, to work on these technologies. We promoted an environmentally friendly mining industry. City.
The goal of this chair is to support and advance these sustainable mineral extraction technologies.
MIRARCO is Laurentian University’s applied research arm, primarily working with the mining industry. Mykytczuk has 18 years of experience in biomining and bioremediation.
“Sudbury has one of the largest mine tailings deposits in all of Canada, and unless we do something about it, that legacy will continue for thousands of years,” Mikichuk said.
Bioleaching is not a relatively new biotechnology. The process was developed 40 years before him, and researchers around the world have fine-tuned it ever since. Sudbury is the newest testing site.
Tailings ponds in the Sudbury Basin contain hundreds of millions of tons of finely powdered waste that is highly chemically reactive and can cause significant environmental damage.
Mykytczuk’s team is developing a bespoke biotechnology that collects naturally occurring, harmless bacteria on site, takes it to the lab, and breaks down those elements in the same way as traditional smelter technology. , it is done in a much cheaper and low cost way. carbon footprint.
Mineral values are extracted, harmful elements are removed, and only benign aggregate remains.
Her proposed $38 million Mine Waste Technology Center had been planned for four years at MIRARCO, and the concept was to provide each mining company with a bespoke solution.
“They will pose challenges to us. We will continue to work with them to develop solutions for them.”
The 45,000 square foot building will include industrial testing space and analytical labs. According to the center’s business plan, one-third of the initial capital investment will come from the private sector, he said. Operating funding is provided through various tiers of industry membership.
Mykytczuk explained that each tailings deposit is unique because it extracts different chemicals, elements, and minerals.
Vale of Sudbury, a dedicated industry partner and sponsor, produces nickel- and cobalt-rich pyrrhotite tailings coveted by battery manufacturers.
Mikicuk said her team will pilot the biotechnology and provide Vale with a viable treatment flowsheet within two to three years to eliminate the estimated $8 billion to $10 billion worth of material remaining in the tailings. He said they have begun extracting metals. She said she is undertaking similar efforts with other industry members across Canada and abroad.
But there are still hurdles to moving significant mineral projects forward in Ontario, and Mikichuk said he wants to accelerate the commercialization of these biotechs, scale them up and put them in the hands of industry. They have the means available to pilot and demonstrate these technologies.
Mykytczuk spoke about the technology’s importance to the state in supplying critical minerals to the world and its application in providing clean, environmentally friendly solutions in places like the Ring of Fire. I was asked about the possibility.
She responded that Ontario is blessed with great mineral resources. The sediments in this particular area of James Bay are on a scale that could form the next Sudbury Basin. However, many development challenges remain in the remote and isolated regions of the state.
Alluding to the City of Sudbury’s landscape restoration efforts, she said much can be learned from Sudbury’s previous efforts that can be applied to developing and supporting mining communities, such as implementing new technologies that avoid creating tailings ponds. Ta.
Indigenous communities around the Ring of Fire won’t support mining development “if we’re going to leave behind the same legacy.”
“There are a lot of potential mistakes that can occur if you don’t do it properly.”