British Columbia is one of the world’s major mining regions. There are abundant and widely varied mineral, metal and coal resources and the province is an important producer and exporter of copper, coal, gold, silver, lead, zinc and molybdenum.
Genomics research in mining is a relatively new endeavour. Genome sciences can contribute to the development of novel exploration tools for geochemical prospecting. For example, species of microorganisms known to be associated with specific ore bodies can be identified. Biologically-mediated processes can be developed using genome-based technologies to assist mineral extraction, reduce chemical use and improve recycling of waste products.
Genome BC is investing in mining research projects in the areas of bioremediation of sites contaminated by metal leaching and drainage. Current mitigation technologies, such as water treatment plants, are expensive. However natural enzymes could be used in a variety of mining processes to contribute to more cost-effective mitigation strategies once the basis for bacterial metabolism and enzymatic reactions are better understood.
Genome BC’s current research project in mining: