Protecting mining and the environment

Protecting mining and the environment

A northern mine cleans up its operations and remains in business thanks to a unique facility at the University of Saskatchewan
November 15, 2012

Saskatchewan’s mining industry creates direct and indirect employment for more than 30,000 people. It spawns economic opportunities for remote communities in northern Saskatchewan, where AREVA Resources Canada Inc. operates the world’s most technologically advanced uranium processing and tailings management facilities at McClean Lake.

Researchers at the CFI-funded Canadian Light Source (CLS) ― Canada’s national synchrotron facility at the University of Saskatchewan ― have played an important role in keeping the mine in operation. They worked with AREVA on a process to stabilize arsenic in mine tailings, to prevent groundwater contamination. “We simply would not be able to mine ore bodies,” says John Rowson, vice-president of Environment, Science and Technology at AREVA, “if we couldn’t prove that we can control the long-term effects of the mine tailings.”

This is but one example of the CLS’s economic impact. For every dollar of its operating funding, the CLS contributes three to Canada’s gross domestic product, for a total of nearly $90 million in 2010. Academic research conducted at the CLS in 2010 also helped train 500 highly qualified personnel and had an estimated commercial value of $28 million.