[News-releases] AAPS - CAT Scans for the Earth

Tim Meyer tmeyer at triumf.ca
Fri Mar 18 09:35:51 PDT 2011

For Immediate Release

Scientists Use Cosmic Rays To Develop Images of Mine Deposits.

Vancouver: March 18, 2011- A Vancouver based centre of excellence is
advancing the development of a new mineral exploration technology that can
take three-dimensional "pictures" of dense ore deposits, towards commercial
application. The technology could increase the success of exploration while
at the same time making it less expensive and reduce its environmental

Similar to medical imaging machines, the technology, initiated from the
research of Dr. Douglas Bryman, J.B. Warren Chair at the University of
British Columbia Department of Physics and Astronomy, is being further
developed by Advanced Applied Physics Solutions (AAPS), a Centre of
Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR), funded under the
federal Networks of Centres of Excellence program.  AAPS, the
commercialization partner of Vancouver's TRIUMF - Canada's national
laboratory for nuclear and particle physics - brings together academics,
government and industry from across Canada to bring Canadian innovation to

AAPS is commercializing muon geotomography, which relies on the detection of
cosmic ray muons (highly energetic electron-like particles created in the
upper atmosphere) which penetrate deep within the earth. "The underground
muon sensor system is able to detect and differentiate regions of high
density, from which 3D images can be created of potentially valuable ore",
explained Dr. Bryman.

The technology has been initially tested in a mine on Mt. Myra, near
Campbell River, and further testing will be undertaken at a number of sites
to prove its effectiveness with different types of mineral deposits. To
develop and field test this specialized system and undertake these tests, as
well as help industry adopt the technology, AAPS has received $1.8 million
in federal project funding from Western Economic Diversification. The
funding was announced yesterday by the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of
State for Western Economic Diversification. 

"Mining is a major contributor to our resource-based economy.  By investing
in this project, our Government is ensuring that our key sectors develop the
tools necessary to grow and provide highly-skilled jobs for Canadians," said
Minister Yelich. "Our Government will continue to do its part to help build
a more globally competitive and productive mining sector."

AAPS is completing first round proof-of-principle tests in collaboration
with NVI-Breakwater at its Myra Falls mining operations on Vancouver Island,
as well with TRIUMF, university partners, the Geological Survey of Canada
and BC Ministry of Energy and Mines.   

"The mining sector is a critical part of a competitive Canadian economy, and
certainly is key to the BC economy," said Jack Scott, President and CEO of
AAPS. "We are proud that with the help of this multi-sector collaboration we
are able to advance a technology that may benefit the industry. The
partnership created for this project is a strong example of the work that
AAPS, as a CECR was established to do", Mr. Scott explained.

"The centres of excellence help translate leading-edge research into
practical solutions for Canadians, addressing many of our country's greatest
health, environmental, social and economic challenges," said Dr. Suzanne
Fortier, Chair of the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Steering
Committee and President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada, "The CECR program plays an integral role in the
government's science and technology strategy for a more prosperous, advanced
and competitive Canada."

Further tests will validate that the technology can be used to explore a
broad range of mineral deposits. The initial tests to identify massive
sulfide deposits at Mt. Myra are a major source of zinc, copper, lead, gold
and silver.  With today's high prices for most minerals, both types of
deposits are being actively explored by Canadian mining companies throughout
North and South America as well as Africa and Asia.

NVI-Breakwater spokesman Rick Sawyer lauded the new technology as a
breakthrough for the industry. "Mineral exploration and mine development is
an expensive and time-consuming process and anything that makes it easier
and less costly is more than welcome by the industry", said Sawyer. "Also,
because this technology has the potential to detect and image deposits at
depth, it will refine the exploration search area which will reduce the
amount of drilling required and further efforts to minimize environmental

The mining industry contributed $32 billion to Canada's GDP in 2009 and
employs an estimated 306,000 workers. 
About Advanced Applied Physics Solutions 

Advanced Applied Physics Solutions Inc. (AAPS) is a national Centre of
Excellence for Commercialization and Research focused on developing and
commercializing advanced physics technologies for the social and economic
well-being of Canadians and people around the globe.  AAPS collaborates with
academic, government, and industry stakeholders to develop promising new
technologies emerging from research at TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory
for nuclear and particle physics research and related sciences,  and other
leading institutions. As a CECR, AAPS is a recipient of close to $15 million
dollars in Federal Funding. The CECR program is an initiative of three
federal granting agencies-the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes for Health Research
(CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
(SSHRC)-in partnership with Industry Canada. For more information visit


Catherine Ducharme
Media Representative
Advanced Applied Physics Solutions (AAPS) 

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