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Project Concept: Critical Minerals and Metals in BC Mine Tailings and Waste Rock Facilities

Lead Researcher(s):  TBD

Project ID:  2022-005

Key Research Organization(s):  TBD

Project Location:  British Columbia

Strategic Focus Area:  Minerals


Tailings and waste rock from many of British Columbia’s earlier mining operations may host economic concentrations of critical minerals and metals. This project would assess the physical, mineralogical and geochemical properties of select historic mine tailings and waste rock across the province, providing new data which can support updated interpretations of the resource and improve their environmental and social legacies. The project could conduct laboratory- and field-scale studies, compile historical data, foster collaboration and expertise, engage the broader minerals industry, and attract interest and support from academia, communities, Indigenous groups, governments and industry.

The Need

Critical minerals and metals are essential to Canada’s economic security and are the foundation upon which modern technology and a transition to a net-zero economy are built. The ability for these resources to be sourced from geopolitically safe countries can also help mitigate the risk of global supply chain disruption.

The potential of tailings and waste rock from producing or past-producing mines to provide an economic resource would provide Canada with additional critical minerals or metals. For any past-producing mine that proves viable, it would also turn mining by-products from an environmental liability into a valuable asset.