National Mining Week 2021: Spotlight on CivMin Mining Research

May 10 - May 15, 2021 is National Mining Week.

To Celebrate, we're highlighting some of the amazing research our faculty, students and alumni are leading to improve mining practices and make the industry more sustainable. 


Prof. Lesley Warren: Mining, Water and Environment

Prof. Lesley Warren’s research examines the largely unexplored bacteria present in mine wastes and impacted waters to generate innovative new technologies that will enhance the environmental practices of the mining industry.

What projects are you currently working on? 

Prof. Lesley Warren, Director of the Lassonde Institute of Mining

The Mining Wastewater Solutions (MWS) Project is developing better tools for reactive sulfur compounds management. Funding for this project come from our mining partners and  Genome Canada and  Ontario Research Fund – Research Excellence (ORF-RE).

My group is also leading a project to constrain sulfur risks to oxygen levels in Syncrude Canada’s first pilot wet reclamation project, Base Mine Lake (BML). Funding for this project comes from Syncrude Canada and NSERC.

What companies/organizations are you working with? 

For the MWS project, we are working with Glencore Sudbury INOHudbay MineralsRambler Metals and MiningEcoreg Solutions and Ecometrix Consulting Companies.

For the BML project, we are working with Syncrude Canada and COSIA.

Who is leading this research and how many are involved (breakdown of profs, students)? 

I am the Principal Investigator on both projects (both international).

For the MWS project there are three professors from three institutions, three research scientists, one field researcher, 10 students, four post-doctoral fellows and two research assistants involved.

For the BML project there are three professors from three institutions, one field researcher, 12 students and three post-doctoral fellow involved with the project.


Lesley Warren (right) collects water samples for geochemical analyses from a waste deposit undergoing reclamation in Alberta. Credit: Lassonde Mining Institute.

What impact do these projects have on the larger scale? (In what way will engineering address the problems to make the world a better place?) 

Mining requires huge amounts of water to extract valuable commodities and generates massive amounts of wastewater that must be cleaned according to strict environmental standards before being discharged.  This wastewater also provides an ideal habitat for microbes, and studying these can help reduce wastewater treatment costs and the environmental footprint of the mining industry.

My research focuses on identifying the microbes that occur in these contexts and how they drive changes in water quality or waste stability. These new discoveries  are leading to new models and tools that tackle the underlying root causes of potential risks to the environment.

To read more about Prof. Lesley Warren's work, visit 


Meet alumna Nicole Doucette

Nicole Doucette (MinE 1T4 + PEY) combined her passion for writing and her mineral engineering background to make a rewarding career in science communications.

Nicole Doucette, MinE 1T4 + PEY
Nicole Doucette, MinE 1T4 + PEY


Tell us about yourself?

I was part of the 1T4 + PEY Mineral Engineering class. I only lasted a brief stint as an Engineer in Training before I went back to my original passion: Writing!

Where are you working and what is your role?
I’m currently working at a software start-up in Vancouver as a Technical Writer. Basically, I write all the docs that teach customers how to use our software. I also freelance as a writer and podcaster, with a focus on geoscience topics.

Can you tell us about your career path and what led you to where you are now?
I kept up writing throughout University, contributing to The Varsity and Skule Cannon student newspapers. Luckily, I was able to combine that with my mineral engineering background to make a career in science communication and writing.

What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a multi-episode podcast series about mining.

What impact do these projects have on the larger scale?
Hopefully it’ll teach the public more about mining and how to invest safely in junior mining stocks!

What advice would you give to current Lassonde Mineral Engineering students?
Getting a degree in mining doesn’t mean you have to stay in it! Don’t stress if you realize after your first field position that it isn’t the career for you, an engineering degree will open many doors.


Editor's note: Nicole has produced two podcast series: Discovery to Recovery and Dynomine (available on Spotify, Apple podcasts, etc.).


Prof. Kamran Esmaeili: Behind the Scenes with Bryan Podcast

Prof. Kamran Esmaeili was featured on the Behind the Scenes with

Prof. Kamran Esmaeili

Bryan Podcast, hosted by Bryan Ulrich. In the episode, Esmaeili discussed his recent paper, Haul Road Monitoring in Open Pit Mines Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: a Case Study at Bald Mountain Mine Site co-authored with Thomas Bamford (CivE PhD Candidate), Filip Medinac (MinE 1T2, MASc 1T9) Matthew Hart (MinE 1T7) and Michal Kowalczyk (CivE 1T0, MEng 1T5).

Five years ago Esmaeili had the idea to conduct UAV research based off his experience consulting on projects. He saw the need for more effective data collection and process monitoring.

"Decision making had been based on partial information and sometimes missing facts, so that has a significant impact on mineral resource management," explains Esmaeili.

There was a need to collect data with higher temporal and spatial resolution to make timely and efficient decisions. At the time, UAV technology had advanced significantly, but there wasn't much of an application in the mining industry. Esmaeili wanted to examine how UAV technology combined with machine learning could be used to improve the process of data collection and decision making.

An experiment was conducted at Kinross Gold Corporation’s Bald Mountain mine, an open pit mine complex located in Nevada, USA.

To learn more, listen to the podcast here:

The Behind the Scenes with Bryan podcast is an engineering podcast that often pertains to the world of mining, and especially mining waste management.