New project promotes using microbes in mining – by Olivia Johnson (CIM Magazine – February 1, 2022)

The database of microbes and geochemical data will be used to build new and sustainable technology in the mining industry

On Feb. 1, Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, an organization that focuses on accelerating digital technology innovation, launched the Mining Microbiome Analysis Platform (MMAP) project. The project will build a repository of microbes and geochemical data, using samples collected from more than 15,000 mining sites.

MMAP is led by Teck Resources in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC), BGC Engineering, Koonkie Canada, Rio Tinto, Genome BC, Allonnia, Microsoft and the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI). Over the next two years, the online platform will extract DNA from mining-site samples and identify microbes that can be used to implement microbial-based resource extraction and new mine-site bioremediation processes.

John Steen, director of the Bradshaw Research Initiative in Minerals and Mining (BRIMM) at UBC, described it as “a genetic library for microorganisms that inhabit mine sites.”

Steen explained that microbes have been around for billions of years, and they have been around metals for almost as long. Many microbes and genes have evolved “little tricks” to process metals, extract metals, or leave others behind. The goal, he said, is to create a library of these microbes and genes and use that data in collaboration with other companies to develop new technologies and make them profitable.

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