Highland Valley Copper (HVC) has pledged $200,000 in cash and $150,000 in-kind support over five years for the establishment of a Natural Sciences and Engineering Council (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair at TRU.
The creation of an Industrial Research Chair position supports the development of industry-based solutions to environmental challenges. Highland Valley Copper’s financial contribution is eligible to be matched by NSERC on a one-to-one basis.
“Environmental disturbance occurs naturally and is also an outcome of natural resource development. Our research aims to understand the ecosystems of the BC interior so that we can quickly and properly restore them to fully functioning and sustainable ecosystems following disturbance,” said Dr. Lauchlan Fraser, professor and candidate for the NSERC Industrial Chair.
“At Teck Highland Valley Copper (HVC) we are committed to responsible mine closure in collaboration with local First Nations people and communities. Research at Highland Valley Copper is a vital part of our reclamation program, so when Thompson Rivers University approached us to contribute to the Industrial Research Chair we welcomed the opportunity,” said Greg Brouwer, general manager of Teck Highland Valley Copper.
“The HVC objectives for closure are to return the land to its former state, to conserve and enhance biodiversity, and return areas to productive uses. The research programs coordinated by the Research Chair will help us achieve that,” Brouwer added.
The establishment of the Industrial Research Chair, in collaboration with Highland Valley Copper, is an exciting first step in the creation of a Centre for Ecosystem Reclamation (CER) at TRU. The Centre — the first of its kind in Canada — will provide the scientific evidence necessary to transform attitudes about land use, and in doing so, create resilient and healthy communities and natural environments.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of Highland Valley Copper, one of our highly valued industrial partners. The planned Industrial Research Chair will enable TRU to make significant progress toward our understanding of the science of ecosystem reclamation, which will have great impact on the local environment. The Chair and the other faculty studying ecosystem science in the developing Centre are already attracting students, researchers and investments to TRU and are becoming globally recognized for developing innovative and practical solutions,” said Alan Shaver, TRU President and Vice-Chancellor.
This is the fourth large grant TRU has received toward the development of an Industrial Research Chair. Genome BC has pledged $250,000 toward the project, the Real Estate Foundation of BC has pledged $150,000, and in 2016, New Gold, operators of the New Afton copper and gold mine, committed $200,000 to the initiative.
Reclamation solutions will be developed in consultation with local Indigenous communities, incorporating their interests and using native plant species to restore traditional land use.
This research ties directly to TRU’s strategic priorities to ensure the environmental sustainability of the region. More effective reclamation plays a role in climate change, as mine sites, specifically water levels and longevity of species, are already being affected by changes in climate.
Dr. Lauchlan Fraser, Professor
Natural Resource Sciences