UBC Applied Science and Teck announce $4M for mine tailings research and education

A large body of water, with mountains and sky in the background, and a mine access road and work trucks in the foreground.
Supported by Teck's endowment, the new UBC Applied Science professor will build greater capacity to exchange knowledge, new ideas and innovative approaches in the safe and responsible design, operation and closure of tailings storage facilities.

UBC Applied Science and Teck Resources Limited today announced a $4 million investment into a new professorship focused on enhancing safety and sustainability in mine tailings management. Teck’s $2 million endowment will be matched by UBC to fund a new professor and lab-based research focused on tailings management at undergraduate and graduate levels.

Teck is proud to build on our longstanding partnership with UBC to enhance environmentally and socially responsible resource development through education and research, said Jonathan Price, CEO, Teck. “This investment will help to accelerate innovation in the mining sector, while supporting continued production of the critical materials needed for a modern, low-carbon world.

Working across different disciplines with industry experts and with world-leading consultancies, the appointed professor will build greater capacity to exchange knowledge, new ideas and innovative approaches in the safe and responsible design, operation and closure of tailings storage facilities. Tailings are produced as part of the mining process after critical metals and minerals used to support a modern world are separated from ore. 

The professorship will leverage UBC’s first-class facilities and highly specialized engineering expertise. The partnership aims to strengthen the pipeline of highly skilled engineers to work in tailings management immediately after graduating.

There is a global shortage of educators in this field, and an important opportunity to build capacity and knowledge retention around safe and responsible tailings management,” said James Olson, Dean, UBC Faculty of Applied Science. “By partnering with Teck, we can accelerate our research in this area and better educate tomorrow’s engineers, to bring about more environmentally sustainable tailings solutions.

The new professor position will be housed within UBC Applied Science’s Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering – a globally recognized leader in research into tailings management. The institute was the first mining department in the world to introduce tailings and mine waste management in its undergraduate curriculum. It remains the only mining department with such a course, despite it being a major priority of industry. Training of tailings management professionals is an important goal of the Teck endowment and professorship.

Because of Teck’s endowment, UBC will have the resources needed to further education and explore new solutions and technologies in tailings management for generations to come. The professorship will be funded through the annual interest earned from the endowment, ensuring a stable and dependable form of funding. 

Teck has been a long-time partner of UBC Applied Science. It employs many UBC graduates, is one of the largest employers of UBC Engineering co-op students, and has contributed $3.8 million of research funding to the Faculty since 2002.

UBC Applied Science will now start working on a global recruiting process to identify and appoint the new professor.

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