McGill-led Research for Cleaner Demolition Technology Receives $1.5 Million from the Government of Canada


Published: 7Aug2019

Paul Lefebvre, Member of Parliament for Sudbury, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, today announced an investment of over $1.5 million for a project led by McGill’s Professor Hani Mitri, Director of Mining Engineering at McGill University, and founder of McGill Mine Design & Numerical Modelling Laboratory. Professor Mitri’s research project will validate and test a new method for rock breakage, improving mining and tunneling practices, while reducing blast-induced fumes from traditional explosives.

Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program funds this project, Rock Fragmentation with Explosives-Free Chemical Demolition Agents. The program invests in clean technology research and development projects in Canada’s energy, mining and forest sectors. The Clean Growth Program also aims to reduce greenhouse gas and air-polluting emissions, while minimizing landscape disturbances and improving waste management practices. The Science and Technology Assistance for Cleantech (STAC) Projects also provided funding for this initiative.

“On behalf of McGill University, I thank the Government of Canada for supporting McGill’s researchers in their quest to enhance the Canadian clean technology ecosystem,” said Nancy Ross, Associate Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation. “These investments ensure we develop our resources in a way that is environmentally sound and sustainable.”

With the funding, Professor Mitri expects the technologies and methods developed will revolutionize mining and tunneling by achieving a far more efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly technique for rock fragmentation.

“The goal of this project is to create, test and validate a revolutionary method for rock fragmentation for underground mining and tunnelling projects,” said Professor Mitri. “The method uses newly modified soundless chemical demolition agents and innovative rock drilling patterns that together facilitate rock breakage for excavation work without the use of explosives. This technology will revolutionize mining and tunnelling by achieving a more efficient, far safer, and more environmentally friendly technique for rock fragmentation.”

At present, drilling and blasting with explosives is the dominant method in the mining industry for the development of underground mine space and ore production. Developments such as shafts, ramps and drifts are traditionally made with this method. However, the use of explosives underground imposes rigorous safety procedures and requires additional ventilation to exhaust blast-induced fumes after each blast to dilute the gas fumes released.

This project will use chemical demolition agents to ensure environmentally safe procedures during demolition projects in the mining industry. These agents are similar to a powdery cement that exerts pressure in the rocks when it expand, causing the rocks to break apart. In addition to avoiding the noise, vibrations and flying rocks associated with traditional blasting methods, this new method will also significantly reduce the cost of demolition projects in the mining industry, as there is no need to ventilate after operations.

Paul Lefebvre, Member of Parliament for Sudbury, said at the announcement that, “by investing in projects like rock fragmentation research, we will ensure that Canada remains a leader in environmental stewardship, while creating a more prosperous mining industry.”

Read the government news release.

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