Research grant from FRQNT and MERN obtained by UQAC and IOS Services Géoscientifiques Inc.

By Réjean Girard (IOS) and Dr. L. Paul Bédard (UQAC), May 25, 2015

Aware of the importance in improving the efficiency of the mineral exploration industry, and considering the synergy which can be developed with universities, IOS Services Géoscientifiques created a research partnership with the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC), which has recently been approved for financing by Québec Research Fundation, Nature and Technology (FRQNT). The research program, directed by Dr. L. Paul Bédard and Dr. Michael Higgins from the UQAC's Earth Science Department and LabMaTer (Earth Materials Laboratory), aims to develop a protocol for automated mineral identification. A $300,000 research grant is to be contributed over three years jointly by FRQNT and MERN, from the second row of the Research partnership program on sustainable mining, to which the industrial partner, IOS, will add about $150,000 for a total project of $450,000.

The research program intent to develop a method as well as the required instrumentation to automate mineral phase recognition based on optical image analysis and optical mineralogy protocols. The basics of the method is to separate heavy minerals from glacial sediments and other detrital material, in order to extract specific minerals which originate from mineral deposits. The method is seen as a more efficient alternative to current usage of visual sorting of detrital minerals under stereoscopic microscope, a method vastly used in mineral exploration despite being slow, costly and of low reliability. The foreseen protocol will be based upon measurement of reflectance/transmittance spectrum of the individual grains, and will require development of specialized instrumentation and software. The program will also includes efforts to control the proficiency of the mineral concentration methods at large as well as the fabrication of certified reference materials for the method. However, the aspect which shall be the most beneficial to the industry will be the reduction of grain size allowed by the process, which is currently limited by the ability of the technician to recover and manipulate individual grains. Reducing grain size would means reducing sample size without impairing statistical counts, resulting in substantial sampling cost reduction. The project will include a post-doctoral fellow plus three master or doctoral students.

Technological advances from this project shall consolidate Québec's leadership in this exploration method specially tailored for Canadian environment, develop highly specialized skills for the industry and maintain highly qualified people over the complete data acquisition process.

Those who know us know we will succeed!

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