IMII, Mitacs and U of S partner to lead minerals industry innovation in Canada

Saskatoon, SK. –  Saskatchewan’s International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII), the national research and training organization Mitacs, and University of Saskatchewan are partnering on a novel research and training initiative through an investment valued at more than $600,000.

The Mitacs Industry Executive in Residence—Minerals (MIER-Minerals) will identify and create new research initiatives that will lead to innovation in the minerals sector, strengthening companies and enhancing Canada’s economy.  

The MIER-Minerals is the first of several such positions Mitacs will support nationally across various industry sectors.  The goal is to support innovation, research and training to enhance the global competitiveness of these industries and encourage collaboration between companies and universities across Canada. 

Engin Özberk, IMII Executive Director and Senior Technical Advisor, will assume the role of the MIER—Minerals at the U of S.

“With more than 40 years of experience and national leadership in the minerals research and innovation sector and strong relationships with Saskatchewan’s leading potash, uranium and other minerals companies, Özberk is ideally positioned to catalyze industry-researcher collaborations for a world-class minerals industry,” said Karen Chad, U of S Vice-President Research. “Through this exciting new partnership, students will have the skills, knowledge and training to seamlessly transition to jobs in this burgeoning industry.”  

“This partnership among the University of Saskatchewan, the IMII and Mitacs will play a leading role in supporting innovation within Canada’s mining and minerals sector,” said Arvind Gupta, Mitacs CEO and Scientific Director.

“We are proud to be part of a partnership that brings academic research together with industry-driven requirements to produce real outcomes benefiting the sector and the economy.  We extend a warm welcome to Engin Özberk and look forward to working with him to build company-university collaborations and train the next generation of researchers with the skills required by this dynamic industry.”

Working with the U of S College of Engineering and other academic units, Özberk will focus on eight areas of strategic importance to the minerals industry: workplace health and safety, environmental sustainability, exploration, mining, processing, social license, policy research and economics of global commodities.

These themes have been identified through industry-researcher consultations undertaken by IMII, a non-profit organization funded jointly by Saskatchewan industry and government to support research, increase education and training, and help address the shortage of specialists in mining engineering and sciences needed by the minerals industry.   

Özberk will also work with other Saskatchewan and Canadian post-secondary institutions to build relationships and multi-disciplinary projects across the country, as well as internationally in these priority areas.

“I am honored to be selected for this first-of-its-kind position,” Özberk said. “This first MIER will create a blueprint for forging new industry-university collaborations, while training the next generation of skilled innovators these industries need to compete in the global minerals marketplace.”  

He noted that Saskatchewan’s significant minerals sector—one of Saskatchewan’s three core economic engines—is poised for growth. The Saskatchewan Mining Association estimates the minerals industry will invest more than $43 billion in new projects over the next 20 years. 

Depending on the number of projects involved, combined investment by IMII and Mitacs could exceed $1 million over two years, Özberk said. He noted IMII has committed to invest about $6 million over the next four years for seven education, training, research, and development projects at universities, SIAST, and regional colleges, including a mining engineering option program at the U of S. 

“Our Government congratulates Mitacs, IMII and the U of S on their partnership which will help to strengthen Western Canada’s international engagement through innovation, research and training,” said the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. “Strong bonds between industry, institutions and government will result in increased opportunities for all Canadians.”   

“Our government is committed to facilitating innovation and research opportunities for Saskatchewan students,” Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris said. “Partnerships between the private sector and post-secondary institutions provide our students valuable experience as they transition from learning to earning, thereby fueling our growing economy and province.”