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sector_ico_Environment_trans Environment

Genomics Solutions for Ecosystem Reclamation Following Mine Closure

  • Project Leaders: Lauchlan Fraser, Jonathan Van Hamme
  • Institutions: Thompson Rivers University (TRU)
  • Budget: $249900
  • Program/Competition: Sector Innovation Program
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2017
  • Status: Closed

Mining is a major driver of Canada’s economy, contributing over $57 billion to gross domestic product (2014). New mines incorporate strategies for closure from day one and put down a bond committing to tens of millions of dollars that ensures a walk away or sustainable maintenance scenario after closing of operations. An environmental assessment (EA) is required prior to the start of mining operations, however it is time-consuming and costly process that seeks to identify environmental and social risk factors that, individually or collectively, may outweigh the benefits of the mine.

This project will launch an innovative program of applied reclamation research that will work with associations, regulators, and First Nations (FN) to improve efficiency and effectiveness of post mine reclamation by developing whole-ecosystem targets and drive restoration practices. The project will use molecular-based tools to provide predictive benchmarks for ecosystem recovery and remediation success, and will consider reclamation in terms of the entire ecosystem, as well as active participation from 4 mine sites representative of an array of regional ecosystems. 

The project will aim to deliver Environmental Assessment – Standard Operating Procedures intended for mine operators, environmental consultancy firms, regulators, and FN to assess soil health focusing on soil microbes. Anticipated benefits include drastically reduced costs associated with EA during mine approval, lower reclamation costs, return of bonds following successful reclamation, and potential for wide-spread applicability that can be applied to future projects across Canada and internationally.