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Lakehead researcher gets $450,000 to study mineral-bearing rock (2 Photos)

Funding is provided by the federal government and Clean Air Metals Inc.

THUNDER BAY — A Lakehead University researcher will lead a study of the mineralized intrusions of what's known as the Thunder Bay North igneous complex, part of the 1.1 billion-year-old Midcontinent Rift that runs through the centre of North America.

Pete Holings, chair of the Department of Geology, is getting $300,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and $150,000 from exploration company Clean Air Metals Inc.

According to information on the website of the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority, "the Midcontinent Rift formed the Lake Superior basin as the continent tried to split into pieces. Younger sedimentary rocks filled in on top of the volcanic rocks as the mountains eroded and rivers flowed into the rift basin. Lake Nipigon with it's towering mesas forms the third arm of the rift."

The three-year research project will compare the mineralized intrusions of the Thunder Bay North igneous complex with barren and weakly mineralized intrusions, to help Clean Air Metals in its exploration program at the Escape Lake and Thunder Bay North deposits, about 60 kilometres southeast of Lac des Iles.

"My team and I will characterize how and when the rocks formed, and investigate how the key metals made their way into the various intrusive units found within the property," Hollings said.  "By doing this we will develop new models that can be applied to help Clean Air Metals drive their exploration program."

Three Masters of Science students, three honours Bachelor of Science students, and one post-doctoral fellow will participate in the program.

The project will help to train young researchers in the skills necessary for a career in the geosciences, whether in academia, government or industry. 

Hollings said the discovery and development of new mineral resources is critical to the Northern Ontario economy, and he expects the project will lead to greater efficiences in that process.

Abraham Drost, CEO of Clean Air Metals, said the company is pleased to support LU's geology research program.

"Our field office is in Thunder Bay and our company benefits directly from the high calibre of Lakehead graduates that we have hired as employees," Drost said, adding that the company's investment and the federal contribution to the Thunder Bay North project is "a vote of confidence in the mineral potential of the area."