Environmental Advances in Mining program

The cost of managing waste streams – including water, waste rock and tailings – to reduce the environmental impact of mining is a present and future threat to the sector's viability and social license to operate. Critical compliance, avoidance and mitigation measures help address these impacts but drive up capital and operating costs and closure liabilities for both industry and government.

NRC's Environmental Advances in Mining (EAM) program targets these sustainability challenges by developing, demonstrating and validating solutions to problems that drive costs and liabilities of hard rock mining. By engaging the supply chain in the innovation ecosystem we help increase the market share of Canada's mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector. This means a stronger economy, more jobs and a cleaner environment for Canadians.

Collaborate with us

The massive scale, cost and complexity of mining – from exploration to operations to closure – make the development and introduction of new environmental technologies both risky and expensive.

NRC's multi-year R&D approach connects technology developers, suppliers, integrators and producers in collaborative projects defined with a deeper understanding of end-user requirements, challenges and pathways toward commercialization. Involving the entire supply chain in technology conception and development leads to faster scale-up and adoption, reducing uncertainty and speeding up the environmental permitting process. This de-risks the process while giving all partners a meaningful stake in the benefits of innovation.

Collaboration opportunities

The EAM program establishes co-investment opportunities that engage mining equipment and technology suppliers, systems integrators and mine operators in projects targeting industry-defined priorities. Multi partner R&D projects and consortia and individual business arrangements are always negotiated to meet clearly defined client needs and market outcomes.

Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) / Metal Leaching (ML) Prediction and Prevention

  • Improved lab-scale tests to enable more accurate field correlations
  • Improved ARD/ML model prediction
  • New ARD/ML prevention/mitigation solutions

Mine Effluent Treatment

  • Target contaminants: Selenium (Se), Salt, Ammonium (NH4+), Sulfate (SO42-)
  • Innovative physico-chemical and biological effluent water treatment
  • Water management: technological improvement to enhance water reuse and recycling

Environment Friendly Extraction Processes

  • Processing and separation solutions that minimize water in tailings and produce benign tailings
  • Revalorization and recovery of valuable metals and minerals from tailings
  • Greener alternatives for metals separation; innovative in situ mining and biohydrometallurgy methods
  • Quantitative speciation of contaminants in mine effluent water and waste streams through advanced characterization techniques and lab-scale tests

Mine Closure & Reclamation

  • Assessment and improvement of passive treatment systems, accounting for synergistic toxicity effects, mixed contaminants and other complex environmental issues
  • Practical and sustainable long term solutions leading to "walk away" mine closure scenarios
  • Site specific solutions that take advantage of naturally occurring biological phenomena and processes to accelerate the revegetation of mine sites

Sensing and Monitoring

  • Real-time remote monitoring of water quality in tailings
  • On-site measurements of contaminants in effluent
Technical and advisory services

NRC's competitive advantage lies in its multidisciplinary capabilities, drawing on experience in adjacent aerospace, construction and defence markets to complement our expertise in mining and environmental remediation. By sustaining technical competencies in emerging as well as applied sciences, we are able to meet client needs as they advance along their technology roadmaps, from next generation solutions to market-ready deployment in the field.

Our mining work applies our strengths in biotechnology, process engineering, water treatment, analytical characterization and multi-scale modelling. Our experts are sought after for their technical expertise, experience and innovative approaches to projects depending on materials and process characterization; industrial and chemical engineering; technology demonstration; and the ecological / ecotoxicological impact of contaminants.

Research facilities

NRC clients also gain access to specialized infrastructure and facilities including:

  • Powerful materials characterization and microscopy centres, including Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), and X ray diffraction (XRD)
  • Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) and laser ultrasonic labs
  • ARD kinetics testing facilities
  • Effluent treatment facilities

Contact us

NRC engages clients on an individual basis and through multi partner collaboration models. Contact us to find out how we can work together to increase market share of Canadian METS and reduce capital and operational expenditures and liability costs.

Serge Delisle, Program Leader
Telephone: 514-496-3124
Email: Serge.delisle@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

Targeted industries

Mining companies (hard rock), technology and service suppliers (materials, chemicals, process technology, diagnostics, sensors, analytical labs), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), system integrators, consulting and engineering firms.

Research publications