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Sudbury lands $40 million in federal funding to steer cross-Canada mining innovation network

Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator will unlock $100 in private investment to share knowledge, advance innovative technologies
MacLean Engineering battery electric vehicle
Battery-powered underground vehicle manufactured by MacLean Engineering (Company photo)

Mining innovation in Sudbury and across Canada just took a huge leap forward.

Sudbury's Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) is receiving $40 million in federal funding to create a cross-Canada network of regional mining clusters, under the banner of the Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator (MICA).

Federal Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne made the announcement in Rouyn-Noranda, Que. on July 13. The funding is coming from the federal Strategic Innovation Fund.

MICA has been one of CEMI's pet projects for years, a $112.4-million proposed research and innovation initiative.

This network will create a partnership membership of more than 350 mining companies, industrial suppliers, academic and researchers, and industrial innovators to share expertise and new technology from within the mining industry and from outside.

Headquartered in Sudbury, MICA will steer a network of partners that include the Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining, InnoTech Alberta, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, MaRS, Le Groupe MISA and the College of the North Atlantic.

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According to the government, MICA will leverage at least $100 million in private sector investment, create 900 jobs, start up 12 new businesses and commercialize at least 30 new products, services and processes related to this country's $109-billion sector.

MICA is designed to be a knowledge-sharing and collaboration network that will speed up the development and commercialization of autonomous and 'clean' technologies in the mining sector.

This initiative is expected to extend the operating lives of mines and cut the time it takes to bring new mineral deposits into production, according to the federal government.

“The commercialization of innovations in the mining industry has never been more important than it is today," said Doug Morrison, CEMI's president-CEO and the leader of MICA.

"Supplying the demand for the minerals and metals needed to advance the green transition to a low-carbon economy is critical, but if mines are to produce more and do so faster, cheaper and more sustainably, implementing innovation is essential. CEMI believes a national innovation network is necessary to identify innovative solutions and integrate them into the system-solutions that the mining industry needs. The MICA Network will help mobilize investments, grow Canadian SMEs and establish Canada’s leadership role in addressing climate change," Morrison added.

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The federal government especially likes MICA's tie-in with the production of strategic and critical minerals, which are key to making clean technologies like battery electric vehicles and solar panels.

The government claims this funding to the mining sector will position Canada as a leading global producer of zero-emission products and technologies.

"Today’s announcement will help bridge the innovation-to-commercialization gap for the benefit of both Canadian mining companies and innovators by providing them with the tools, knowledge and expertise they need to meet the future demands for Canada’s critical minerals," said Champagne in a statement.

"The mining sector is playing a pivotal role in our green recovery and our progress toward net zero, and I look forward to the innovations and the job creation that will come from these new collaborations.”