RDC Investing in Mining and Petroleum-Related R&D Led by Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic

ST. JOHN'S, NL, April 3, 2014 /CNW/ - The Research & Development Corporation (RDC) is investing more than $500,000 in six research and development projects related to mineral exploration and development. The projects are being carried out by researchers at Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic to enhance exploration efforts, improve environmental mitigation strategies, and strengthen opportunities through the purchase of specialized equipment.

"The mining sector has been integral to economic growth in Newfoundland and Labrador. We are fortunate to have a diverse, mineral-rich land, and a successful local industry. The investment in R&D reinforces that success, ensuring that we remain competitive in the international market."
- The Honourable Terry French, Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development and Minister Responsible for the Research & Development Corporation

The total investment in these projects is approximately $1.1 million, with the balance of funding coming from the private sector and other funding agencies.  Three of the six projects are being carried out in collaboration with private sector companies, further strengthening the relationships between industry and academia in the province's mining sector.

"Collaboration between academia and industry is critical to ensure that our mining sector remains competitive. RDC's investment will help strengthen that relationship and provide new R&D infrastructure so that Newfoundland and Labrador's mining sector is consistently discovering new and better ways to access and develop our resources."
- Glenn Janes, Chief Executive Officer, Research & Development Corporation

A complete list of projects and project descriptions is noted in the backgrounder below. One of the projects is a collaborative initiative between the College of the North Atlantic and Memorial to establish a portable geochemical laboratory. The project is led by Dr. Gary Thompson, NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Applied Mineralogy at College of the North Atlantic in collaboration with Dr. Derek Wilton of Memorial Earth Sciences. 

"The equipment will be used in research using unconventional exploration techniques to find buried resources. The first study will take place this summer on the west coast of Newfoundland looking for possible hydrocarbon seepages that may indicate potential oil/gas reservoirs. Subsequent soil gas studies will focus on the search for buried mineral deposits."
- Dr. Gary Thompson, NSERC Industrial College Chair in Applied Mineralogy at College of the North Atlantic

Another project, led by Memorial University, aims to improve environmental mitigation in the mining industry through a more cost effective method. 

"The acidity and metal load in acid mine drainage is considered one of mining's most serious threats to the natural environment. This study will evaluate biochar, a material produced through Newfoundland and Labrador's abundance of waste wood, to remediate the problem. This research has the potential to initiate a much more cost effective solution for the mining industry to mitigate acid mine drainage."
- Dr. Joinal Abedin, Labrador Institute, Memorial University 

The Research & Development Corporation is a provincial Crown corporation responsible for improving Newfoundland and Labrador's research and development performance. RDC works with research and development stakeholders including business, academia and government agencies and departments to make strategic investments in highly qualified people, R&D infrastructure and innovative research.

Through sound fiscal management and responsible decisions, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is strengthening the business environment, encouraging the development of innovative industries and building a vibrant economy.


  • RDC is investing more than $500,000 in six research and development projects related to mineral exploration and development.
  • The total cost of these projects is more than $1.1 million, with the balance coming from the private sector and other funding agencies. 
  • Projects will be undertaken by researchers at Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic to enhance exploration efforts, find improvements in environmental mitigation strategies, and build capacity.
  • For more information about RDC, visit: www.rdc.org.

Organizations Receiving Funding to Support Research and Development Initiatives

GeoEXPLORE Collaborative Research Projects
GeoEXPLORE is a directed research program intended to enhance geoscience research and development (R&D) capacity, collaboration and industry innovation in support of mineral and petroleum exploration and development in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Dr. Graham Layne, Department of Earth Science, Faculty of Science, Memorial University Mineralogical, geochemical & geochronological study of the Valentine Lake Gold Property
This project is designed to enhance gold exploration efforts on the Valentine Lake property, located in west central Newfoundland approximately 57 km south of Buchans. Dr. Graham Layne will collaborate with Marathon Gold Corporation to identity additional targets with prospectivity for gold mineralization in an effort to further increase the existing gold resources on the property. This research will include the characterization of the mineralogy, geochemistry and geochronology of the property. RDC's investment is 85,673 with total project costs of $103,173.

Dr. Gary Thompson, NSERC Industrial College Chair in Applied Mineralogy, College of the North Atlantic
Soil gas exploration for hydrocarbon and mineral deposits in Newfoundland and Labrador
This project will establish a portable geochemical laboratory and develop new techniques for mineral and hydrocarbon exploration in Newfoundland and Labrador. Petroleum and gas reservoirs leak small amounts of oil and gases over time along natural fissures, cracks, and faults in the earth's surface. Through soil analysis, Dr. Gary Thompson will attempt to locate these small leaks, pointing towards petroleum and gas reservoirs beneath the surface on the west coast of Newfoundland. The second phase of the project will refine soil gas geochemistry techniques for the exploration of sulphide minerals in the Voisey's Bay area.  Dr. Thompson will determine whether there is a Voisey's Bay gas signal that indicates mineral rich rocks beneath the surface. If this project is successful, the developed soil gas techniques may be used to improve exploration success rates for hydrocarbon and sulphide minerals in Newfoundland and Labrador.  RDC's investment is $65,000 with additional funding of $94,300 from Nalcor and the provincial Department of Natural Resources through their jointly sponsored Petroleum Exploration Enhancement Program (PEEP), $99,500 from NSERC and Vale (in-kind contribution) through a joint initiative in support of NSERC's Industrial Research Chairs for College Grants (IRCC), and $65,000 from other funding sources. Total project costs are $323,800.

LeverageR&D attracts public funding for academic-led research and development in areas relevant to industry and the Newfoundland and Labrador economy.

Dr. Colin Farquharson and Dr. Ronald Haynes, Department of Earth Sciences, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Memorial University
GPU-based high performance computer for geophysical applications
This project will support the purchase of a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)-based high performance computer (HPC) for geophysical applications. The GPU-based computer will enhance current capabilities at Memorial University allowing researchers to work on larger data sets, such as those used for geophysical modelling. This project demonstrates R&D capacity that may help maintain and possibly enhance the competitive edge of the local exploration industry. By improving capacity at Memorial for high performance computing, researchers and students will have access to facilities that allow them to create optimized algorithms, process at higher speeds and improve the resolution for processing geophysical data. These technological enhancements will help in the exploration for minerals and hydrocarbons.  RDC's investment is $79,496 with additional funding of $63,597 from CFI and $15,900 from other sources. Total project costs are $158,993.

Drs. Penny Morrill and Vaughan Grimes, Department of Earth Science, Department of Archaeology, Memorial University  
Compositional and isotopic characterization of complex organic samples for the study of origin and preservation of hydrocarbons and biological tissues
This project supports the purchase of new instrumentation and equipment that will enhance Memorial's research in hydrocarbon sourcing, mining and mineral resources and the environment, and will directly benefit Drs. Penny Morrill and Vaughn Grimes' research. The equipment will be housed in the Earth Resources Research and Analysis (TERRA) facility in the Department of Earth Science, and will attract and retain highly qualified personnel in the province. RDC's investment is $110,212 with additional funding of $110,106 from CFI and $56,912 from other sources. Total project costs are $277,230.

IgniteR&D attracts highly-qualified academic researchers and builds new research and development capacity in areas relevant to industry and the Newfoundland and Labrador economy.

Dr. Joinal Abedin, Labrador Institute, Memorial University
Laboratory evaluation of the use of biochar application on sulfidic mine tailings to reduce acid generation and increase immobilization of metals
During the mining and milling of sulfide-bearing ores, large quantities of waste rock and mill tailings are generated and will turn into sulphuric acid known as Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) when combined with air and water. AMD is harmful to fish and other aquatic life, and is an ongoing industry issue. Although remediation processes for AMD are currently used by the mining industry, Dr. Joinal Abedin is collaborating with Vale and Biochar Solutions to demonstrate that biochar, a carbonaceous solid produced from biomass such as waste wood, crop residue or other organic materials, combined with pyrolysis (combustion with a limited supply of oxygen) can provide an effective, low cost solution for the remediation of AMD. If this project is successful, Dr. Abedin will undergo proof of concept testing in collaboration with industry partners at an AMD site. RDC's investment is $100,000.

Dr. Harunur Rashid, Earth and Environmental Sciences/Division of Science, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University
Geotechnical properties and stratigraphy of Quaternary sediments on the continental slope of the Salar Basin
This project will provide geotechnical information on the Salar Basin, which is a relatively unexplored region of the continental shelf for petroleum deposits. Characterization of sediments and determination of stability is required prior to offshore exploratory drilling and seafloor installations. Dr. Harunur Rashid's project will assess sediment instability and identify potential geohazards. Research findings of Dr. Rashid's project will help companies interested in pursuing offshore oil and gas exploration activities in the Salar Basin. In addition, results from this project will assist energy-producing companies in determining the economics and safety of exploration and development. RDC's investment is $100,000.

SOURCE: Research & Development Corporation

For further information: Media contacts: Chris Flanagan, Director, Marketing & Communications, Research & Development Corporation, 709-758-1021, 691-1009, chrisflanagan@rdc.org; Heather Maclean, Director of Communications, Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, 709-729-4570, 697-4137, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca; Meaghan Whelan, Communications Coordinator Office of the Vice-President (Research) , Memorial University of Newfoundland, 709-864-4073, 709-687-9243, mcwhelan@mun.ca; Roger Hulan, Communications Specialist, College of the North Atlantic, 709-643-7938, Roger.hulan@cna.nl.ca


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