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Federal Funding Boost to Advance Clean-Water Technology For Canadian Mining Industry

May 3, 2019

Trent University and Noblegen partner with researchers to develop green bio-filtration technology to make mining industry more sustainable

Dr. Neil Emery

Research aimed at advancing clean-water technology to make Canada’s mining industry more sustainable has received $797,104, over three years, through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Dr. Neil Emery, vice president Research and Innovation and Biology professor at Trent University, and Forensic Science associate professor Dr. Barry Saville are partners in this research with former Trent Chemistry professor Dr. Celine Guegen. Local company Noblegen is supporting this research, which aims to develop a sustainable green biofiltration technology for mineral extraction and mining waste waters.

“This research is a prime example of Trent University’s emerging Cleantech strengths,” Professor Emery says. “It combines outstanding talent in genomics, organic chemistry and bioinformatics, to enrich our industry partner’s innovative product development. My colleagues and I are very excited to start the work, which is designed to make a difference for a critical environmental and societal need.”

"This funding enables us to develop new approaches for mining companies to not only clean up the toxic tailing ponds but also to harvest residual precious metals from these ponds thus helping the environment and mining company profits at the same time,” adds Professor Saville. “The funding provides an exciting opportunity for us to train students at Trent University in a multidisciplinary endeavour involving several cutting-edge approaches and the combination of academic and industry research focuses. It is an excellent applied research project that will benefit all involved."    

The funding is part of a broader announcement by the Hon. Kirsty Duncan, minister of Science and Sport, of more than $44 million to recipients of the Strategic Partnership Grants. This funding, which focuses on collaborations between academia, businesses, government and other organization, will go to 75 projects across the country.

“When researchers, businesses, and governments work together, they can turn their discoveries into the innovations that will improve the lives of all Canadians,” Minister Duncan said. “That is why our government is investing in the partnerships that will bring our best and brightest together. When we invest in science and research, we invest in us all.”

The Canadian mining industry accounted for 16% of GDP and 1.74 million jobs in Canada in 2016. Sustainable development is critical to the natural resources sector and to the environmental friendly development in the North.

The research, using state-of-the-art molecular techniques including genomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics, will investigate the abilities of the protist Euglena to sequester metals in diluted mine waters and to facilitate their extraction. The Euglena-based filtration technology will allow extraction of economically valuable metals and it will reduce the environmental footprint of the tailing ponds.

About Trent University
One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.

For more information contact:
Kathryn Verhulst Rogers, manager, Marketing & Communications, Trent University, 705-748-1011 x6182 or

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