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Mining council awarded $5M for rock-crushing tech

Canada Mining Innovation Council wins Crush It! Challenge
A screenshot from a promotional video on CanMicro microwave technology demonstrates how the system separates minerals (red) from waste (black).

The Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC) has received $5 million from the federal government to develop new rock-crushing technology that will reduce the amount of energy required for its use.

CMIC received the funds as the winner of the Crush It! Challenge for its CanMicro project, which involves a consortium of organizations from across Canada.

The results of the national innovation competition were announced on June 14 by federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson during the annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers of Canada (PDAC).

According to the CMIC, CanMicro uses a short blast of high-power microwaves to selectively break ore and sort the waste from valuable minerals.

This reduces the need for traditional crushing and grinding, which crushes all ore indiscriminately.

The technology can result in energy savings of up to 70 per cent in comparison to more conventional crushing systems.

Microwave technology is in use in other industries, but mining has been slower to accept it, according to Dr. Erin Bobicki, the project’s technical lead.

“Fundamentally, there’s a lack of understanding of how minerals interact with microwaves, and this information is really necessary in order to optimize the treatment,” Bobicki said in an explainer video.

The consortium working on its development is comprised of Bobicki, an associate professor in the faculty of engineering – chemical and materials engineering department at the University of Alberta; Sepro Mineral Systems; Glencore Canada; COREM; Queen’s University; Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc., and the Saskatchewan Research Council.

The Crush It! Challenge was launched in 2018 with the goal of finding innovative solutions for cleaner, more efficient rock processing in the mining sector.

Nearly 65 applicants applied, receiving $860,000 to advance their technologies.