New NOHFC Industrial Research Chair Announced for MIRARCO

March 7, 2023, Toronto, Ontario

During the Prospectors and Developers Conference (PDAC) in Toronto this week, Vale Energy Transition Metals announced a collaborative project in partnership with Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation, and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO) at Laurentian University, to accelerate the recovery of critical minerals from mine waste.  

Vale announced that it has committed C$875,000 over five years to MIRARCO to support a new Industrial Research Chair program in Biomining and Bioremediation. The Government of Ontario will also contribute C$750,000 through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. to support this program. The program will be bolstered by academic partners at Cambrian College, and completed in collaboration with BacTech Environmental, Teck Resources, Natural Resources Canada-Canmet Mining, and the University of Toronto.

Dr. Mykytczuk, President and CEO of MIRARCO, Research Chair in Biomining and Bioremediation, MIRARCO

The industrial research chair program led by Dr. Nadia Mykytczuk will develop, pilot and work towards commercializing bioleaching and bioremediation processes including efforts to recover nickel and cobalt from low-grade pyrrhotite tailings and other wastes.

“This builds on our extensive R&D history and proven track record of lab-to-plant process development and represents a significant opportunity for waste-stream reprocessing here in Ontario,” said Luke Mahony, Chief Technical Officer at Vale Energy Transition Metals. “We see this as a triple-win, with potential to reduce liabilities, accelerate commercial recovery of critical minerals and capture additional value from mined material.”

 “The new and improved Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation is supporting innovative solutions in the resource extraction sector that will change the way we see mining traditionally,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development. “By partnering with Vale and MIRARCO, we are committing to Made in Ontario solutions that will reduce mine waste and enhance value for materials already involved in the mining process.”

Dr. Mykytczuk, President and CEO of MIRARCO, said, “I am very grateful for this funding support and collaboration that will accelerate the development of new tools to help us extract value from wastes, producing the metals we need in an environmentally sustainable way.”

With Cambrian College as the co-applicant in the Industrial Research Chair in Biomining and Bioremediation, MIRARCO’s research team will have access to Cambrian’s new state-of-the-art chemical analysis lab, while Cambrian staff and students will provide technical support. Cambrian R&D will also assist with any assembly or fabrication of specialized equipment required during the project.

“This is Cambrian’s first industrial research chair and is a testament to the industry-driven innovation that takes place in our R&D labs daily,” says Dr. Mike Commito, Director of Cambrian R&D. “We are honoured to be the co-applicant and an integral partner because we remain committed to pursuing research and innovation that will make mining more efficient and environmentally sustainable. This project has tremendous implications for the sector globally.”