This great big government cheque represents the largest single funding in Laurentian’s 56-year history. (Photo: Laurentian University)

Sudbury’s school of hard rocks celebrated an unprecedented influx of funding September 6 as it received pledges totalling more than $114 million for mining-related studies. The biggest was a $49.27-million grant from Ottawa’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund for the school’s seven-year Metal Earth project. The program gets another $55 million in cash and in-kind contributions from 22 partners in academia, industry and government. That’s not including $10 million for the newly renamed Harquail School of Earth Sciences from the family of David Harquail, president/CEO of Franco-Nevada TSX:FNV

“Metal Earth is a new approach, it goes beyond traditional research at deposit or district scale,” said Harold Gibson, leader of the project and director of the Harquail School’s Mineral Exploration Research Centre. “It will transform how we explore for metals and our understanding of Earth’s early evolution.”

The project will involve researchers from Laurentian and partner institutions, recruiting over 35 post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, technicians and support staff, over 80 graduate students, 100 undergrads and numerous subcontractors.

“Global metal reserves are being depleted due to increased demand and decreased global discovery rates over the past 10 years,” Gibson added. “Spending on exploration has increased while discovery rates have decreased. Without a means to discover and extract metals, modern societies will be faced with a crisis that will detrimentally impact social, technological and industrial development.”

David Harquail called his family’s donation a step towards making Laurentian the world leader in mineral exploration research. “Laurentian has mining in its DNA with its location next to mines and a cluster of mining-related government departments and research agencies on campus. Success will come from the development of new concepts and tools to find the next generation of ore deposits.”

The Harquail endowment marks the fourth eight-figure gift in less than five years to a Laurentian department from mining-related tycoons. The other contributions went to the university’s Bharti School of Engineering, Goodman School of Mines and McEwen School of Architecture.


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