University of Alberta Faculty of Engineering announces NSERC/COSIA Senior Industrial Research Chair in Oil Sands Tailings Geotechnique

Edmonton—One of Canada’s top researchers tackling challenges presented by mining waste has been appointed as an Industrial Research Chair by the Natural Sciences Engineering and Research Council of Canada.

University of Alberta engineering professor Ward Wilson, with the support of industry partners, is leading research projects aimed at solving challenges presented by mine tailings, such as the oil sands tailings.

Wilson has been appointed to a five-year term as the NSERC/COSIA Senior Industrial Research Chair in Oil Sands Tailings Geotechnique. The chair is supported by Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance’s Tailings Environmental Priority Area (COSIA Tailings EPA) and Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions. This Industrial Research Chair program will provide Alberta’s oil sands industry, its regulators and consultants with novel technologies to measure the effectiveness of current tailings remediation efforts, new and innovative processes for reducing the amount of postproduction tailings, and simulation models to assist industry with tailings planning and management.

Dan Wicklum, COSIA Chief Executive noted, “COSIA is about bringing the best minds to bear in accelerating environmental performance improvement. This Chair is an important example; the work done under Ward’s leadership will be of great value in advancing innovative tailings management techniques used by COSIA’s mining operators.”

University of Alberta Dean of Engineering David Lynch says collaborative partnerships such as this benefit everyone involved by bringing real-life industry challenges to university classrooms and labs, connecting education, research and the application of new knowledge beyond the university’s borders.

“When industry and universities work together, students gain a deeper understanding of the concepts they’re learning because they can see the connection between their studies and the practical applications of engineering principles,” Lynch said. “At the same time, industry and the engineering profession benefit as we educate a highly qualified new generation of engineers.”

The research program is being funded for five years with a possibility of renewal. Wilson’s program is supported by a total of $4.4 million including a $1.95-million award from NSERC, $1.95 from COSIA Tailings EPA and $500,000 through Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions.

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Vivian Giang 
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering 
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