Impala investing $375K to help establish Industrial Research Chair in mineral exploration at Lakehead

Exploration targets at Lac des Iles. Credit: Impala Canada

Impala Canada has announced a $375,000 investment to help establish a new industrial research chair in mineral exploration at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

The investment acted as a catalyst in securing additional funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Lakehead University, for a total commitment of $2.15 million. These funds are intended to advance research outcomes and strategic goals through the Lakehead Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining & Exploration. Peter Hollings, chair of Lakehead University’s Department of Geology, will be named the new NOHFC Industrial Research Chair in Mineral Exploration. 

“Exploration is the lifeline of the mining industry, and finding new, economically viable mineral deposits opens the door to generations of jobs, investment and community development opportunities,” Tim Hill, CEO of Impala Canada, said in a release. “We are proud to co-invest in this industrial research chair and partner in the world-class research led by Dr. Peter Hollings at Lakehead University.” 

The Impala Canada contribution goes beyond a financial investment. To support the research into the metallogenesis of nickel-copper-platinum group metal deposits and prospects in the Thunder Bay area, the company’s geology team will work with the researchers and provide in-field support. Hollings and his team will have unparalleled access to the geological database at Impala Canada’s Lac Des Iles mine and regional exploration properties, a database that is several orders of magnitude greater than most academic-based geoscientific projects.   

The LDI mine and regional exploration projects are expected to become in-field research hubs for faculty, graduates and undergraduates as they work to better understand the magmatic system that gave rise to the palladium deposits at LDI and other prospects in the region. 

“Investing in job creation and research and development at Lakehead University will help drive new solutions and support our government’s commitment to grow the province’s mineral exploration and prospecting industry,” added Greg Rickford, Minister of energy, northern development and mines. “Through this project, we have the potential to attract new investments into the region and drive more economic opportunities here in Northwestern Ontario.”

The funding partners’ vision is to unlock mineral resources with the same potential as LDI, for new major operations in the Thunder Bay mining district, responsibly mining nickel, copper and platinum group metals.

 State-of-the-art analytical equipment located at Lakehead University will help researchers develop an enhanced understanding of the geology and genesis of mineralization, which can be used to guide further exploration and development and enhance exploration efficiency by reducing the time and capital costs required in the discovery of mineral resources.

 “Through this research project, Lakehead will train the next generation of graduate students to work on mineral deposit studies. Students who are highly trained geoscientists are in great demand among the mineral exploration industry,” concluded Moira McPherson, president and vice-chancellor, Lakehead University. “We know we can contribute to the growth and opportunities in the mining sector and see those opportunities filled by highly skilled graduates from our university.”

This five-year NOHFC Industrial Research Chair in Mineral Exploration will lead to additional collaborations with Impala, and is expected to help generate new partnerships with other companies that are actively exploring in northern Ontario.   

The Lac des Iles mine has been operating for over 25 years and, in October 2019, received a $1-billion offer from Implats. The site is one of two primary palladium producers worldwide.

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