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Industry and government to support new research chair


From left, Dr. Gary Kachanoski, Dr. Steve Piercey, Glenn Janes, Brian Dalton and David Robbins.


By Kelly Foss


Significant investments from both industry and government totalling more than $2 million will support a new industrial research chair for Memorial University.

Dr. Steve Piercey was formally appointed the NSERC-Altius Industrial Research Chair in the Metallogeny of Ores in Volcanic and Sedimentary Basins during a reception recently on the St. John’s campus.

Established by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Altius Minerals Corporation, additional funding for this chair is being provided by the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador (RDC) and Memorial University. Together, the investments will strengthen research capacity in mineral exploration in the province.

NSERC will invest $700,000 in this chair over a five-year period in collaboration with Altius, which will provide $750,000 in cash and in-kind support. RDC is contributing $500,000 and Memorial University will commit $235,256.

Over the next five years, Dr. Piercey will focus on understanding ore deposits associated with ancient volcanoes and sedimentary environments, focused on understanding the formation of resources of copper, zinc, lead, gold, silver and uranium in these settings, to create knowledge and research tools that may be transferable to industry and applied in the search for new resources.

NSERC said it is delighted to be a part of a partnership between government, industry and the university.

“Dr. Piercey exhibits all of the traits that NSERC looks for in its Industrial Research Chairholders,” said Dr. Suzanne Fortier, president of NSERC. “The professional and academic expertise he brings to the field of mineral deposit dispersion and exploration, along with his relationship with Altius, will provide a huge asset to Canada’s mining and natural resource sectors.”

The chair will be associated with the Department of Earth Sciences in the Faculty of Science and is aimed at understanding the formation and discovery of new mineral resources in both Newfoundland and Canada.

Dr. Piercey’s work will also ensure students are trained in field techniques and the application and acquisition of analytical data, leading to an integrated, holistic approach to understanding ore deposits.

“Through this contribution, Altius recognizes Memorial University as a world-class facility for geological research at its Department of Earth Sciences, which has a long track record of research excellence in geosciences,” said Brian Dalton, president and chief executive officer of Altius. “The NSERC-Altius Industrial Research Chair will provide Altius a unique collaborative edge in developing new mineral deposit models and concepts integral to its innovative project generation business, while also supporting the work and training of promising new geoscientists.”

Glenn Janes, chief executive officer of RDC, said mineral resources have long been a cornerstone to Newfoundland and Labrador's economy and today's collaborative investment from industry, RDC and NSERC will facilitate important research in the search for new resources.

With a strong academic and professional background in teaching, research and development, Dr. Piercey’s research interests are centred around the application of field and laboratory methods to understand the setting, style, genesis and exploration of mineral deposits and the crustal growth and evolution of ancient mountain belts.

“Mineral resources are a critical component to the economy of Canada, contributing significantly to the gross domestic product of the nation,” said Dr. Piercey. “Despite the importance of resources, Canada’s resource base had been decreasing due to a decrease in the rate of discoveries in Canada and an ever increasing exhausting of both mineral and energy resources.”

Dr. Piercey currently serves on the examination board with the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador, is a councillor with the Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) and is an associate editor of Economic Geology. He has received the William Harvey Gross Medal of the Mineral Deposits Division of the Geological Association of Canada and the Waldemar Lindgren Medal from SEG – two awards aimed at young geoscientists who have made significant contributions to their field.

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