One-on-one with Dr. Mike: A Q&A with microbiologist Dr. Nadia Mykytczuk
As part of Sudbury.com’s ongoing Discover Series, Dr. Mike Commito, Director of Applied Research & Innovation at Cambrian College, who is often referred to simply as Dr. Mike on campus, is sitting down with researchers and entrepreneurs in Sudbury to spotlight the innovative work they’re doing in our community and beyond.
This week, Dr. Mike had the chance to catch up with Dr. Nadia Mykytczuk on the shores of Ramsey Lake at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre at Laurentian University. Dr. Mykytczuk is a microbiologist who studies how bacteria live and adapt to extreme environments. She holds an Industrial Research Chair in Biomining, Bioremediation and Science Communication at Laurentian University.
When she’s not teaching, Dr. Mykytczuk spends most of her time investigating how bacteria can be used in the mining process. Based on her research, Dr. Myktytczuk believes there is a great opportunity for the mining industry in Canada not only to deploy bacteria in remediation efforts to break down tailings and minimize mine waste, but also to utilize this biomining technology as a catalyst during the extraction process. Continue Reading →
Nearly two centuries of mining in northeastern Ontario has left its mark with waste from thousands of mines.
But Nadia Mykytczuk said that waste can be turned into another mining opportunity and at the same time clean up the dirtier parts of the industry’s legacy.
Mykytczuk, a microbiologist, was the guest speaker at the kickoff luncheon for Modern Mining and Technology Sudbury Week (MMTS), hosted by the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation, on April 12. Continue Reading →
Mykytczuk said Canada is behind other countries in making advances
in bioleaching and bio-mining because with the luxury of having
abundant space and mineral wealth, we feel addressing problems of
waste piles isn’t a priority.
To accelerate that research, Mykytczuk is proposing the development
of Canada’s first Centre for Mine Waste Biotechnology for Sudbury,
a research and commercialization hub to allow for solid and liquid
mine waste technology research to be taken from the lab and applied
in the field.
The tiny microbes that Nadia Mykytczuk cultivates in a Sudbury laboratory could have a huge impact in dealing with the legacy issues of mine waste.
The billions of dollars it will take to tackle the problem of treating these industrial legacy sites are not only a burden on governments, but the remediation poses a major headache for operating mines and the introduction of new development.
Laurentian University’s Mykytczuk, an environmental microbiologist at Vale Living with Lakes Centre, has been developing cost-effective, green alternatives to deal with these long-term challenges while finding ways of pulling value from the waste material. Continue Reading →
THE National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) proposed on Thursday to rehabilitate degraded mining sites by deploying microbes into the soil, a process called bioremediation.
“There are 50 active metallic mines that will surely become mined out or (contaminated with) mine tailings if there is no responsible mining. That means we will have more abandoned mines,” according to Dr. Nelly S. Aggangan, lead researcher of a study commissioned by the NRCP.
Ms. Aggangan was presenting her 2017 study, “Greening Mined-out Areas in the Philippines,” during the NRCP-Legislative Scientific Forum for Policy Development. Continue Reading →
Nadia Mykytczuk, Industrial Research Chair in biomining, bioremediation and science communication at Laurentian University, spends a lot of time studying how micro-organisms like bacteria can be used to extract minerals and re-process legacy mine waste, all of which can reduce the environmental liabilities of mining.
As one of the few mining microbiologists focused on cold environments like Canada, she is working to create a Centre for Mine Waste Biotechnology that will nurture the next generation of scientists, companies and microbial mining tools.
CIM: What path led you to your current work at Laurentian University?
Mykytczuk: Very early on I was focused on how microbes work in various environments. While I was an undergrad at Carleton University, I got a co-op placement at the National Research Council looking at vaccine development for various pathogens; for my PhD at Laurentian, I looked at the adaptation of acid mine drainage (AMD) bacteria to acidic and cold environments. Continue Reading →
In the decades-long efforts to regreen the Sudbury basin, Vale is reporting its Copper Cliff Tailings Project using biosolids is continuing to be successful. So successful, the groundbreaking project recently won an award and plans are in the works to apply it to other reclamation projects.
The Copper Cliff Tailings Project, a joint effort by Vale and Terrapure’s solutions division, Terratec Environmental, has been running for about five years and continues to show positive and even surprising results.
“We are doing this for two reasons: dust control and covering the area with vegetation for long-term closure plans,” said Glen Watson, superintendent of environment decommissioning and reclamation for Vale Canada. It recently won the Water Environment Association of Ontario’s 2018 Exemplary Biosolids Management Award. Continue Reading →
The mining industry largely concerns itself with the inanimate resources of nature: rocks, metals and chemicals. However, there is an increasing interest in how living organisms – small, singlecelled microbes – can breathe life into the mining cycle and limit its environmental impacts.
Monique Haakensen sees a lot of microbes in her role as president and principal scientist at Contango Strategies. Using DNA-sequencing technology, the company provides a microbial community profiling service which identifies the microbiological population at mining projects and provides lab results, guidance on remediation strategies or even suggestions on which living plants will add to an ecosystem to help microbes thrive. And according to Haakensen, microbes are finally getting the respect they deserve for their role in remediation.
“Until this type of technology came about, it was a guesstimate, and because of that there have historically been a lot of failures in passive water treatment because they were not based on informed decisions,” said Haakensen. Continue Reading →
Taking biomining and bioremediation to the next level
Biomining and bioremediation are one step closer to wider use in the mining industry with the creation of a new position at Laurentian University geared towards commercializing the technologies.
As of July 1, Nadia Mykytczuk is Laurentian University’s first industrial research chair in mining, bioremediation and science communications. Ontario is investing more than $630,000 through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to create the five-year research chair position.
“It’s less of a teaching load and more research,” said Mykytczuk. “The impetus was to create a vibrant research program and initiate new projects with industry. The research chair matters because we have a very long legacy of mine waste impacts in Canada and the world, and we now have the opportunity to use biotechnology to help decrease those impacts.” Continue Reading →
With luck, ingenuity and some scientific know-how, Sudbury’s tailings ponds could become a new source nickel, copper and zinc. Researchers from Laurentian University, the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia met at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre on Wednesday at a symposium to discuss biomining research.
“The topic of discussion is developing technologies that aim to remediate waste and effluent waters from mining operations in Sudbury and British Columbia,” Vlad Papangelakis, a professor at the University of Toronto and the project lead of the biomining research, said Wednesday. “We hope to recover some value from locked metals in these residues that will offset the processing costs.”
The value of residual nickel in Sudbury tailings amounts to $7 billion, according to recent world nickel prices. “There is significant economic interest, therefore, to use the eco-friendly processes being developed by (biomining) for remediation and base metal extraction,” symposium organizers said in a release. Continue Reading →
There is money to be made – and saved – by finding new, environmentally friendly ways to deal with mine tailings in Sudbury and across Ontario. With this in mind, the Vale Living with the Lakes Centre in Sudbury on Wednesday will welcome its academic and industry partners for a two-day Elements of Biomining (EBM) research symposium.
The national network has received $4 million in funding from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation to develop biotechnologies for mine waste stabilization, and the recovery of valuable metals like nickel, copper and zinc.
To achieve this goal, Elements of Biomining will harness the capabilities of naturally occurring microbial communities. Researchers form the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and Laurentian University make up Elements of Biomining. Continue Reading →
Laurentian University researcher Nadia Mykytczuk’s recent Early Researcher Award served as affirmation of the value of her work, as well as assurance that work will continue uninterrupted.
Mykytczuk, who works out of the Vale Living With Lakes Centre as Laurentian’s NOHFC Industrial Research Chair, received $140,000 from the provincial government to fund her project aimed at developing cost-effective, energy-efficient ways to recover metals and reduce environmental impacts from mine wastes using microbes.
“It’s excellent support, to apply for these very competitive grants and then to be a recipient means that I’m not only doing a good job at being a researcher, but that I’m actually standing out there and being able to get a competitive grant like this to support my early research,” Mykytczuk said. Continue Reading →
The Canadian Press – TORONTO — Programmable bacteria, a gold-sniffing camera and a virtual reality tool for taking investors underground were among the innovations on display at the world’s biggest annual mining convention in Toronto this week.
Their makers say these and other technologies have the potential to reshape the mining industry at every stage — from financing and exploration to extraction and cleaning up sites once the metal is gone.
Some veterans of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention say such innovation is badly needed in an industry traditionally resistant to change.“There’s a lot of inertia in our business,” said George Salamis, chairman of Vancouver-based Integra Gold Corp. (TSXV:ICG). Continue Reading →
Yet another right-here-in-Sudbury story is unfolding before our eyes, and on March 5, in front of some 400 mining company executives, government officials and other heavy hitters at the finale of #DisruptMining, a high-stakes mining innovation contest, in Toronto.
Bio-Mine Ltd., a Sudbury-based company, is one of five finalists getting reading to pitch their “game-changing environmental technology” at the Shark Tank-style event, with $1 million on the line.
“You couldn’t ask for that kind of earshot marketing,” said Bio-Mine CEO Kurtis Vanwallegham, who founded the company along with Dr. Vasu Appanna. “It would have taken us a year, two years, to do that, so just the fact that many decision-makers in the recovery and remediation sector are sitting in that room is key. Obviously, we’re there to win, and a million-dollar injection would be a springboard for us, but the most important part for us is actually the crowd itself in one room, getting that many people.” Continue Reading →
A new Laurentian University industrial research chair position in bio-mining, bio-remediation and science communication has the potential to kickstart a new industry in Sudbury that could create hundreds or even thousands of jobs, said the director of the Vale Living with Lakes Centre.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say there will be an entire industry built around this,” said Laurentian professor John Gunn, who is also the Canada research chair for stressed aquatic systems. “The demands are so big.”
The province is investing more than $630,000 through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to create the five-year research chair position at the university. The announcement was made at a press conference in Sudbury on May 9. Continue Reading →