CEMI is a not-for-profit based in Sudbury and Toronto, Ontario. It was established in 2007 by Inco Ltd and Xstrata (now Vale Canada and Glencore) to help deliver practical technological solutions to improve the economic and environmental performance of mining operations. CEMI initially supported university-based research projects but from 2012 it has focused on bridging the innovation and commercialization gaps that often prevents many innovative point-solutions from becoming commercially successful.
The Ultra-Deep Mining Network (2014-19) was CEMI’s first innovation program, supporting 25 Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Mining Service and Supply (MSS) sector. The $35M program was funded by the Canadian Federal Government ($15M) and the private sector ($20M) and helped 10 companies to expand their businesses in terms of service offering and employment. CEMI recognised that the SMEs are the most innovative segment of the mining sector, as in most other sectors, and that the Network approach to business development accelerates the success of these innovators. CEMI recognised the UDMN was too small and too narrowly focused and began to develop a larger Network program. The Mining Innovation and Commercialisation Accelerator (MICA) Network was funded in 2021 with $40M from the Canadian Federal Government and matched by $60M from the Private Sector. MICA is now a national program with four themes; 1) increasing productive capacity at lower cost, 2) reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions, 3) eliminating tailings impact risk and liability and 4) implementing digital autonomous systems. The first call for proposals closed in April and the second will close in early 2023, allowing projects to complete by 2026.
Mining’s GHG footprint is relatively small, and CEMI believes its primary role is to ensure that the large-emitter sectors (transportation, infrastructure and manufacturing) can meet their critical GHG-reduction targets. For the mining sector to meet the demands of the transition to a low-carbon economy by 2035, it must replace its 40-year-old production technology platform and implement autonomous production systems that will dramatically increase energy-metal production - at lower cost. Current tailings management systems must be replaced by separation and diversion processes that eliminate long-term tailings facilities, allowing mine waste products to contribute to expanding agriculture and re-forestation and increase the global absorption of CO2. In doing so, mining can recover its public reputation and make a significant contribution to arresting and reversing the effects of Climate Change.