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Mining Association of B.C. offers cash prize for water innovation

Newcrest, Teck co-sponsor contest similar to Australia
Red Chris copper and gold mine in Northwestern B.C., opened in 2015, is now owned by Newcrest Mining, one of the sponsors of a water innovation contest for B.C. mines. (B.C. government photo)

Companies that come up with new ways to conserve and treat water in B.C. mining operations have a chance to win $150,000, in a contest organized by the Mining Association of B.C.

MABC president Michael Goehring announced the industry’s first-ever Mining Innovation Challenge on Thursday. Co-sponsored by the B.C. government, Natural Resources Canada and industry players Teck Resources and Newcrest Mining, the competition for entrepreneurs is open until Feb. 18 for expressions of interest, with a winner to be announced at the end of June.

Goehring describes it as a “reverse pitch,” inspired by electric car and spaceship pioneer Elon Musk’s X-Prize, a $100 million contest to develop carbon dioxide extraction from Earth’s atmosphere. Mining uses, collects and treats vast amounts of water in its mine and tailings operation, and reducing waste and evaporation is a key step in the industry’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint.

In these innovation contests, customers pitch their technology needs to innovators, who apply and undergo expert assessment. Winners get support to bring their ideas to a commercial scale in real mining operations.

Teck and Newcrest are sponsoring a similar innovation contest in Australia, which like B.C. has extensive metallurgical coal and metal mines. Teck executive Doug Brown said the company continues to have most of its operations in B.C., and is leading efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its operations. The Australian contest is for electrifying mine operations.

RELATED: Newcrest acquires Brucejack Mine in northwest B.C.

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Goehring said the industry is at “a pivotal moment in our transition to low carbon,” which means big increases in battery, electrical, wind and solar energy systems. Goehring noted that B.C. is Canada’s largest copper producer, its only molybdenum producer, and has potential to mine nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements needed for renewable technologies.

Australia-based Newcrest operates Red Chris mine in northwestern B.C., the gold and copper deposit region known as the “Golden Triangle” of B.C. Teck has had metallurgical coal mines and metal smelting in southeastern B.C. for more than a century.

The province issued a Mines Act permit to Ascot Resources Ltd. on Dec. 7 to develop their Premier Gold Project, which aims to be one of B.C.’s lowest carbon-intensive gold mines using B.C. Hydro power. Located near Stewart B.C. and Hyder, Alaska, Premier Gold is a partnership with the Nisga’a Nation.

“The rights under our treaty and our commitment to stewardship of the Nass Valley and Nisga’a citizens have helped set the Premier Gold Project to be a safe, prosperous and responsible mining operation,” said Eva Clayton, president of the Nisga’a Lisims Government.


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