Yukon University receives funding to treat mine water with native bacteria 

Taylor Belansky at Minto Mine

Yukon University has been awarded $75,000 to research a method for treating contaminated mine water with native bacteria at the Minto Mine site. The Mitacs Acceleration program and Minto Metals Corp. (Minto) are supporting this Master’s degree project that was built in partnership between the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Northern Mine Remediation and the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS). 

Master’s student, Taylor Belansky, is exploring a method of removing nitrate from mine water in cold climates. Nitrate is a blasting residue, and while it exists naturally in the environment, a surplus can be harmful to plants and animals. Belansky is imitating natural processes by using bacteria from the Minto Mine site to remove nitrate from contaminated water. This addresses an identified need from Yukon Mining Research Consortium to develop passive water treatments that can operate in cold climates with minimal maintenance requirements. 

“We are grateful to develop this applied research project with the generous support of Mitacs and Minto Metals Corp.,” said Dr. Guillaume Nielsen, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Northern Mine Remediation, Yukon University. “With limited research on passive water treatments in cold climates, our results will be of interest both locally, and across the circumpolar North." 

Belansky has sampled water and soil from various locations at the Minto Mine site to collect and identify bacteria. They will be contained in a lab-scale bioreactor in various conditions to optimize and test their denitrification capabilities. The results will then be applied as a pilot at the Minto Mine site. 

Over the next two years, Mitacs is contributing $22,500 per year and Minto is contributing $15,000 per year, for a total of $75,000. This funding will be used for student wages for both the Master’s student and a student research assistant. 

“At Mitacs, we believe that collaboration is the key to success. We are very excited to be launching this new research partnership with Yukon University whose findings will help drive innovation in an important segment of the northern economy,” John Hepburn, Chief Executive Officer, Mitacs. 

“Minto looks forward to our continued partnership with Yukon University and is proud to support a research project that aligns with our core values of investing in community and sustainable mining,” said Loralee Johnstone, Vice President, Environment, Social Governance at Minto. “Minto is excited to help develop Yukon-based solutions to mine remediation that may be incorporated into the mine’s future closure plans.”  

The NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Northern Mine Remediation (NMR) is a research program at the YukonU Research Centre. NMR is supported by the Yukon Mining Research Consortium that includes Alexco Resources Corp., BMC Minerals Ltd, Casino Mining Corporation, Minto Metals Corp. Newmont Corporation, Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd., and Victoria Gold Corp.. 

For more information, please contact

Dr. Guillaume Nielsen

Industrial Research Chair

Northern Mine Remediation
YukonU Research Centre