Quebec’s CTRI gets funding to test SELFRAG high voltage pulse comminution

The Centre Technologique des Résidus Industriels (CTRI or Industrial Waste Technological Centre) in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec has announced some important financing for an innovative new project in the context of the Clean Growth Program (CGP) in the natural resources sector.

The pilot project that will test Kerzers, Switzerland-based SELFRAG’s high voltage pulse fragmentation technology for the mining sector. An investment of C$1,150,495 will help develop a viable alternative to more energy-intensive options for crushing and grinding. If successful, this process will significantly reduce emissions and lower energy consumption by up to 20%. The Government of Canada’s funding comes in part from Natural Resources Canada’s CGP, C$442,600, and from Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions’ Quebec Economic Development Program, C$707,895.

“We based the concept of this project on the use of high-power pulse (HPP) technology to grind and ease the release of noble elements contained in mineral rock. By the expression high-power pulse, we mean the storage of electrical energy and its release into very dense and very brief electric impulses that accordingly set free great power which can destroy the rock. Our role is thus to adapt the use of this technology to the mining sector and make it a cleaner and more economical alternative to conventional mechanical processes that consume much energy,” explained CTRI hydro-metallurgist Nassima Kemache, also a member of Elements08 Strategic Metals Excellence Centre. In June 2020, SELFRAG announced it had installed its Lab #38 at CTRI.

The main goal of this project is to create a Swiss-Canadian partnership dedicated to develop the use of high-power pulse in the mining environment and to succeed in proposing this clean technology on a pilot-project scale. More specifically, it also targets study of the potential of use of this technology in the improvement of energy efficiency as well as that of the recovery rate of refractory gold and lithium.

“Sustained by numerous environmental issues, the mining industry is beginning a new era today in which paradigms of the past and the present will become unacceptable. Only the new growth source technologies likely to break with former models will survive this screening process. The current project led by the CTRI and its invaluable partners is a perfect example of what a new and clean technology might be for the mining sector,” affirmed Hassine Bouafif, Director General of the CTRI.

Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of Natural Resources, attended the unveiling. “These investments include financing that we will pay to the Industrial Waste Technological Centre for a pilot project that will test out new comminution and grinding technology in the mining sector. This  C$442,600 investment, which comes from the Clean Growth Program, will enable the development of a viable alternative to more energy-guzzling options of the traditional crushing and grinding circuit. If we find the experience conclusive, this process will significantly reduce emissions and allow a decrease of up to 20% of energy consumption.”

Many other partners are partaking in this unique research project: the Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED), the University of Sherbrooke and SELFRAG.

“The SELFRAG company is proud to join CTRI to develop the use of pulse frequency in the Canadian mining sector. Developing our technology to the point of an industrial mining scale through collaboration with our Canadian mining partners certainly is an exciting idea for us. We hope that this collaboration will evolve into a strategic partnership with the CTRI and, why not, with the Canadian mining sector,” upheld Director General Frédéric von der Weid.

“We have made real commitments to demonstrate that a strong economy and a sound environment go hand in hand,” declared the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages in charge of CED. “The non-refundable contribution of C$707,895 granted by CED will allow the CTRI to reinforce its innovation and technology transfer abilities so it can support the improvement of environmental performance of small- and medium-size businesses and organisations that it serves.”