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A Québec first in mining industry research: Launch of UQAT-Polytechnique research program supported by nearly $10 million in contributions from several industry partners

April 24, 2013 - Source : NEWS

Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) and Polytechnique Montréal are launching a joint research program, the only one of its kind in Québec: the Research Institute on Mines and Environment - RIME UQAT-Polytechnique (UQAT-Polytechnique). The program will have several mining industry partners: Agnico Eagle, Osisko Mining Corporation, IAMGOLD Corporation, Rio Tinto, Fer et Titane inc. and Xstrata Nickel Raglan Mine. With a value of nearly $10 million provided over seven years, this innovative partnership will produce a top-notch research program and train highly qualified professionals.

For some 30 years, UQAT and Polytechnique Montréal have pooled their expertise by collaborating on various teaching and research projects, particularly since 2001 with the creation of the Industrial NSERC Polytechnique-UQAT Research Chair in Environment and Mine Wastes Management. This longstanding association has produced more than 150 highly qualified people, as well as research work whose results are currently being incorporated into mining practices in Québec, Canada and worldwide.

Johanne Jean, Rector of UQAT, says: “This major partnership announced today reflects UQAT's development philosophy: that of joining forces. Because of the quality of the research teams in place and the cutting-edge facilities at the two institutions, this high-level scientific programming will foster knowledge development and enable the establishment of optimal solutions for mine waste management and site reclamation, thus meeting the needs of both industry and society.” 

For his part, Polytechnique Montréal's Director of Research and Innovation, Gilles Savard, adds: “The development of the Canadian mining industry is accompanied by significant challenges, both economic and environmental. By making the most of the existing research infrastructure, the experience of seasoned professors and researchers, and the successful partnerships established between Polytechnique, UQAT and companies in the industry, RIME is positioning itself as a unique and promising space for training and innovation. This major initiative is a perfect fit with Polytechnique Montréal's 2011–2016 strategic research and innovation plan, which paves the way for multidisciplinary projects that encourage open innovation within a sustainable-development perspective.” 

Mining partners get involved 
From the start, the partners believed in this forward-thinking project. “The mining companies are aware of the current and future environmental challenges in their sector,” notes Michel Julien, Chair of the RIME UQAT-Polytechnique Board of Directors. “Research and development are key tools for success in facing these challenges. The world-renowned expertise of UQAT and Polytechnique Montréal will make it possible to develop innovative solutions which, while respecting the environment, will contribute to the mining industry's competitiveness and growth.” In this perspective, it is important to emphasize that the mining companies are active partners in this project. In addition to their financial contribution, they have participated enthusiastically in establishing the research program and providing personnel, access to their sites and facilities for supporting the research work.

RIME UQAT-Polytechnique: a project for society
Focusing on the environment and on the management of mining waste, the research program aims at developing environmental solutions for a mine's full life cycle. “We are touching on a number of topics related to current industry issues, including the reclamation of mine sites, the hydrogeotechnical behaviour of tailings impoundments, the design of waste rock piles, and the use of mining wastes to backfill underground openings” explains Michel Aubertin, professor and Scientific Director of RIME at Polytechnique Montréal. His counterpart Bruno Bussière, professor and Scientific Director of RIME at UQAT, adds: “Graduate students trained by the two institutions are the experts of tomorrow, in mining companies, consulting firms and governments. RIME UQAT-Polytechnique is contributing to the development of research while consolidating training for the mining sector at the undergraduate, master and doctoral levels.”

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