By Ryan King
Community News Reporter
SOUTHWEST COAST – The College of the North Atlantic (CNA) has partnered with Novamera, a venture capital-backed startup that is on the leading edge of sustainable mining technology. The partnership will involve students participating in a field trial of the drilling technology.
“CNA and Novamera have partnered to advance Novamera’s innovative mining technology – Sustainable Mining by Drilling. Their project involves lending students and research expertise for a full field trial of Sustainable Mining by Drilling,” stated Michelle Barry, CNA Communications Manager.
This new technology allows for surgically precise mining and was developed with the assistance of the Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador (MUNL). It is both environmentally friendly and cost-effective. For this approach, Novamera was recently nominated to Foresight 50, the country’s most investable cleantech ventures.
Shannon McCrae is Vice-President of Business Development with Novamera.
“We are creating an integrated network of intelligent cloud-based systems, software, and devices to power ‘keyhole surgery’– precision guided mining, tech-driven, surgical mining that uses high resolution imaging to identify vein and host rock interfaces. This increases existing site potential by unlocking previously inaccessible or unprofitable zones in a deposit – and extending that potential to globally abundant sites rich in small-scale near surface narrow vein mineral deposits. We do this using a two pass process with a guidance system to detect the wall rock/vein interface and then a production drill, followed by backfilling. This results in a small footprint compared to traditional mining methods, reduces waste and greenhouse gas and is a scalable solution,” explained McCrae.
When the mining is complete, the hole is backfilled with concrete made from the tailings of the ore, which minimizes waste.
CNA has a history of supporting the province’s mining industry, so the partnership makes sense for both parties.
“CNA’s Office of Applied Research and Innovation has been strategically focused on supporting the province’s mining sector. This has resulted in over $10 million in applied research projects with the industry, including most recently the $5.2 million for a mobile hyperspectral drill core scanning project to provide high quality digital data on NL’s rich drill core archive and utilize hyperspectral technology to advance our industry partners’ operation,” said Barry.
The College also partnered with the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation’s (CEMI) the new Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator Network (MICA).
“MICA intends to connect Canada’s regional mining clusters and bring together mining companies, mining suppliers, academic and research institutions, innovators from all walks of life, and others to foster knowledge sharing and collaboration, as well as create technical and business synergies among its members. In total, MICA received $40-million funding from Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) on a $112.4-million project. To better focus on innovation support for the province’s mining sector, OARI has married its various strengths in personnel and equipment to create the Centre for Innovative Mining Solutions (CIMS) through which we have collaborated on dozens of applied research projects that have engaged over 100 College students,” said Barry.
Similarly, the partnership with Novamera will translate into benefits for students, and who are already showing interest.
“We’ve had positive feedback from our students so far, being involved in an innovative project with hands-on learning during our proof of concept field trial,” said McCrae.
The program will allow for real-world and exposure to innovation in mining. It will allow for students to develop skills like teamwork, developing ideas, and problem solving. The students will help bring new technology to the industry, and many students will join the company post-graduation.
Given the rise of the mining industry on the Southwest coast, this program offers a unique opportunity for young people in the province, while supporting an environmentally friendly approach to mining. While the program will not be offered at the campus in Port aux Basques, Barry did observe that many of the trades offered at that campus would be useful to the mining industry, such as welding.
“We are continuously working with industry partners to lend our highly skilled students and address their particular needs, while at the same time, opportunities like this provide our students with real-world hands-on learning and prospects for future employment upon graduation.”