Defragmenting the Mining Innovation Ecosystem

Project overview

In 2017 and 2018, CMIC and CanmetMINING partnered on a multi-year initiative to transform Canada’s mining innovation ecosystem. The partnership focused on strengthening, expanding, and defragmenting the ecosystem while aligning innovators towards the goal of a zero-waste industry.

In turn, this collaboration supported CMIC’s role as the industry champion for mining innovation and as the national hub for mining innovation. The project also facilitated the development of collaborative innovation projects that are industry-relevant and aligned with CMIC’s industry-defined technology roadmaps as well as the Government of Canada’s clean technology agenda.

There are some undeniable truths about the future of mining that are driving the industry to transform itself. To achieve these goals mining must address some fundamental Grand Challenges and put Key Enablers in place.

Goals – mining must transform significantly

  • Zero waste – Move towards zero waste with a bold reduction in energy use, water use and environmental footprint. CMIC’s vision is 50% reduction by 2027.
  • Intensity, productivity and efficiency – Improve mining intensity, labour productivity, and cost-efficiency.
  • Health and safety – Improve the safety and health of everyone in the mine.
  • Sustainability – Deliver sustainable long-term benefits to our communities, locally and globally through multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Global mining trends

Grand challenges – what mining must figure out

Enablers mining must drive towards

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  • Remote control
  • Mechanization
  • Autonomy & automation

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  • Modularization
  • Interoperability
  • Plug & play

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  • Open data and standards
  • Knowledge Hubs
  • Open innovation and IP Management

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  • Sensors, connectivity & data capture
  • Predictive analytics & artificial intelligence
  • Short-interval control
  • Digital twin for integrated design, planning, scheduling & production

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  • Design out waste and pollution
  • Keep products and materials in use
  • Regenerate natural systems

Integrated innovation roadmap

Enablers → Challenges → Projects Portfolio → Zero Waste Mining


Software Defined Mine

  • Ubiquitous sensors, connectivity & data capture
  • Predictive analytics of equipment & mining processes
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Short-Interval Control
  • Real-time monitoring of performance against plan
  • Integrated mine design, planning & scheduling (including production, maintenance, processing, logistics)
  • Digital twins of all equipment as well as full mine & operations

Flexible Mine Design

  • Modularization
  • Interoperability
  • Plug & Play

Circular Economy

  • Design out waste and pollution
  • Keep products and materials in use
  • Regenerate natural systems

Open Collaboration

  • Open Data
  • Open Standards
  • Knowledge Hubs
  • Open Innovation Intellectual Property Management

Autonomous Mining

  • Robots and drones for inspection & production
  • Automation of new & existing fleet
  • Equipment & process mechanization & automation


Produce Minerals on Tap

  • Material Access & Liberation (e.g. Mechanical Cutting)
    • Material Movement – Alternative hauling technologies
    • Electrification
    • Continuous Mucking
    • Alternative to trucks/ road haulage (electric)
  • Continuous transportation of ore to the surface
    • Sorting – Separating minerals from rock
    • Ore Sorting & Tailings
    • Waste rock rejection
    • In-Pit or Underground Processing; Pre-concentration of ore at the face

Know Everything About the Mine

  • In Exploration
    • Visualize subsurface geology
    • Detection techniques from other disciplines (e.g. genomics)
    • Accelerated targeting undercover
    • Coil drill techniques and blast hole analysis
  • Real-Time Modelling & Simulation During Production
    • Ore sensing at the face
    • Processing
    • Environmental management

Eliminate Environmental Footprint

    • Energy
      • Comminution Alternatives (e.g. CAHM, thermal fragmentation)
      • Energy recovery from heat loss
      • Small Medium Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)
      • Renewable Energy Adoption
    • Water
      • Process Water Treatment
      • Water recycling / closed-loop systems
      • Tailings Dewatering
      • Drying technology
      • Waterless Processing
      • Advanced and real-time monitoring

Additional resources



CMIC held a total of 7 workshops across Canada focussed on the areas of exploration, surface mining and processing as part of our mandate to strengthen, expand, and defragment the ecosystem, while aligning innovators towards the goal of a zero-waste industry. A summary of each of these workshops is below.

Topic Location Attendees Outputs
Geo-Mine-Met Integration Toronto, Canada on November 14, 2017 15 attendees
  • Initial short term action plan
  • Initial list of potential projects
Exploration  Vancouver, Canada on January 21, 2018 22 attendees
Surface Mining  Calgary, Canada on February 27-28, 2018 26 attendees (base & precious metal, oil & gas and coal miners, suppliers, academia)
Mineral Processing Vancouver, Canada on March 22-23, 2018 30 attendees
Mining, Surface and Underground Vancouver, Canada on May 9, 2019 (hosted by GMG) 35
  • Recognition that surface mining and underground mining  future technology requirements are similar enough to warrant creation of a single mining roadmap
Surface Mining Edmonton, Canada on January 31, 2019 65 attendees

Project definition workshop

A two-day workshop supported by CanmetMINING was held December 12-13, 2018 in Toronto to align industry-defined requirements and the Grand Challenges with the “Crush-it” Mining Challenge organized by the Impact Canada Initiative and Natural Resources Canada.

Participants ideated and prioritized potential CMIC lead or supported projects, building out six initial project plans that included timelines, commercial pathways and project leads. Two of these were identified as high-priority and  have subsequently been launched. One page summaries of these projects defined by participants are below.

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Mike Stuart

Head of Sales , Intel