Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster has launched the Mining Microbiome Analysis Platform (MMAP) project, which, it says, is the largest investment in planned natural resource genomic sequencing in the history of the sector.
With breakthrough biomining solutions, the MMAP project will be the catalyst for sustainable mining practices on a global scale by replacing energy and chemical-intense resource extraction methods and improving mining site clean-up techniques, it says.
Led by Teck Resources, and in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC), BGC Engineering, Koonkie Canada, Rio Tinto, Genome BC, Allonnia, Microsoft and the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI), this consortium is creating the first integrated online platform to extract the DNA from more than 15,000 mining site samples over the next two years to identify microbes that can be used to replace chemical and other legacy extraction methods for minerals and metals, and to perform safer, more effective remediation of legacy and operational mine sites. UBC’s Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining (BRIMM), in particular, has played a formative role in bringing together the private industry partners, non-profit genomics and mining sector organisations, and academic researchers crucial to this unique partnership.
The combination of technology companies, researchers, and mining sector companies provides MMAP both the critical mass to develop viable solutions and a direct pathway to commercial adoption, it says.
François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, said: “As we transition towards our net-zero future, the mining sector can and will play a crucial role in our green recovery. We are proud to see Canadian mining leaders such as Teck Resources driving innovation and accelerating sustainable mining practices.
“Through Digital Technology Supercluster projects such as this one, we are creating well-paying jobs and breakthroughs in biomining that are important to Canada, and those advances will contribute to achieving environmental sustainability not just here but also on a global scale.”
Don Lindsay, President and CEO, Teck, added: “At Teck, we’re continually looking for the most effective ways to protect the environment while we produce the metals and minerals needed to build a better quality of life for people around the world. We’re pleased to partner on the MMAP project which stands to advance the mining industry’s collective commitment to responsible resource development.”
Mark Davies, Chief Technical Officer at Rio Tinto, said: “As an early mining user of the platform, we see the transformative potential for this microbiome-based technology to promote environmental stewardship and help us achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. By providing samples from our mines for genome sequencing, we are contributing to the potential development of breakthrough biological solutions to decarbonize the extraction and processing of metals and minerals, and to support the remediation of mine sites.”
This project is also supported by the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation as well as the Tahltan Central Government, and Illumina, a global genomics sequencing company. The Mining Microbiome Analysis Platform project has a total investment of C$16.6 million ($13.1 million) with C$12.6 million invested by industry and C$3.99 million co-invested through the Digital Supercluster’s Technology Leadership Program.
Sue Paish, CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster, concluded: “Changing how the mining industry interacts with the natural world requires broad collaboration so that, together, we can create a more sustainable future. The Digital Supercluster is proud to see Canadian companies and organizations such as Teck, BGC Engineering, Koonkie Canada, Rio Tinto, UBC, Genome BC, Allonnia, Microsoft and the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation lead the way in cleaner natural resource extraction and more responsible site management.”