Yukon Unversity Research Centre
NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges (IRCC) in Northern Mine Remediation
Industrial Research Chair for Colleges
Chairholder since 2019
Mining has led the economy in Yukon, since the Goldrush started in 1896. Recognizing the need for careful planning to respond to remediation at all stages of a northern mine’s life, leaders in Yukon’s mining industry have identified the necessity for applied research to ensure best practices for northern environments are created.
Dr. Guillaume Nielsen, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair in Northern Mine Remediation at Yukon College, is leading the way in applied research projects that support mining companies as they develop environmental best practices.
Nielsen works in partnership with six major Yukon mining companies – Goldcorp Kaminak Ltd., BMC Minerals (No. 1) Ltd., Victoria Gold Corp., Casino Mining Corp., Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd. and Alexco Resrouce Corp. – known collectively as the Yukon Mining Research Consortium (YMRC).
His work focuses on three research trends:
- Water Treatment by Passive or Semi-Passive Technologies: The mining industry in the Yukon is currently using active water treatment technologies. A transition to cost-competitive passive treatment technologies will benefit the mining industry through economic efficiency and reduced environmental impact, but scientific evidence of efficacy of passive or semi-passive water treatment in cold climates is required to support this transition through regulation and implementation.
- Mine Waste Management: Tailings management represents one of the biggest challenges the mining industry is facing. Climate change and its impacts (including warmer temperatures, increased precipitation and permafrost thaw) bring a pressing need for new tailings management methods that can be implemented in the North. The IRCC will investigate saturated covers and northern-specific revegetation options to advance mine waste management approaches in northern mines.
- Mine Revegetation: Revegetation after mining in Yukon is limited by a lack of commercially available, locally sourced seeds of northern plants and minimal knowledge of successful revegetation techniques in cold climates. The IRCC in Northern Mine Remediation will test a revegetation technique at a partner’s mine site that could feasibly completed with locally-sourced seeds.
Community engagement with Yukon First Nations is always part of the research process. Traditional knowledge and First Nations world view are included in each research project Nielsen builds.
This research program is designed to alleviate some of the financial, regulatory and social pressure that the mining industry is facing. Most importantly, this IRCC holds collaboration on research activities and knowledge sharing with industry and First Nations as a critical component of a successful IRCC research program. The IRCC in Northern Mine Remediation also creates student research positions, is involved in college teaching courses, and increases research collaboration with Yukon College’s existing faculty members.
- Goldcorp Kaminak Ltd.
- BMC Minerals (No. 1) Limited
- Victoria Gold Corp.
- Casino Mining Corp.
- Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd.
- Alexco Resource Corp.
Yukon Unversity Research Centre