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January 2019

Newfoundland mining company strikes gold with local students

At a glance
The team

Anaconda Mining, with interns from the Geomatics Engineering Technology program, College of the North Atlantic, and Memorial University of Newfoundland

The challenge

Cost-effective, yet environmentally sustainable gold mining

The solution

Collaborate with research interns from local colleges and universities

The outcome

Innovation in Atlantic Canada’s mining industry, supported by local talent  

What's next

New technology that’s unique in the world

Anaconda Mining knows there’s gold at Deer Cove on the Baie Verte Peninsula. The challenge is getting it out of the ground — literally. Unlike mining from hard rock, this gold was found in a streambed (known as a placer) — a first for both the company and in the province. Although the placer was first discovered in 1986, it was left undeveloped. Until now.

Now, a new local resource — college research interns — combined with modern technology, will help Anaconda drill into a new solution for developing the placer mine.

Supported by Mitacs, students from College of the North Atlantic are helping the company find a cost-effective mining process to extract gold from Deer Cove, while leaving the natural habitat largely intact. It’s the first Mitacs project in Newfoundland to pair college interns with industry.

Over several months, the interns will perform a feasibility study, map the sediment thickness, and perform laboratory tests. The first intern, from the Geomatics Engineering Technology program at CNA’s Ridge Road campus in St. John’s, will begin this spring, with a second intern taking on the project after that.

“The challenge is to find a technology that’s appropriate for the environment. The operations require a smaller-scale technology that’s less invasive, yet economically feasible for a company to use,” explains CNA’s Associate Vice-President of Applied Research and Innovation, Dr. Michael Long. “The site has to be assessed before you decide on the kind of technology to deploy.”

The project could help Anaconda reduce costs, improve gold recovery, and extend the operating life of the mine while creating more sustainable mining methods. It can also inform further research in similar environments.

“Applied research adds capacity, and helps us do things efficiently,” says Allan Cramm, vice-president of innovation and development at Anaconda.

“Applied research adds capacity, and helps us do things efficiently,” says Allan Cramm, vice-president of innovation and development at Anaconda.

or the interns, the project brings hands-on experience with industrial research processes, including the decision-making you need in a business.

“Students get experiential learning,” says Michael. “Not just work-term placements.”

Mitacs projects give Anaconda the chance to do leading-edge research and development (R&D) they otherwise couldn’t support. In addition to this new project with CNA, Anaconda has also collaborated with Mitacs-supported researchers from Memorial University of Newfoundland for many years.

“I tell people that we may have 75 people on staff, but we have relationships with the college and university that give us access to 27,000 people,” says Allan.

“Innovation is high risk,” he continues. “Working with Mitacs helps us achieve research-based objectives with reasonable costs.”

Today, Anaconda is developing equipment based on research that could give them a unique ability to tap into previously inaccessible gold resources using sustainable approaches and the latest innovations. Allan believes that improving innovation in the region is beneficial for all.

“It’s in our collective interest to keep mining active here and to invest in local talent.”


Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for their support of the Accelerate research internships in this story. Across Canada, the Accelerate program also receives support from the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan, and Research Manitoba.