Follow the volcano

Ancient vapours are helping researchers identify gold deposits in Nova Scotia

Kevin Neyedley, left, and Dr. Jacob Hanley of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are doing research supported by Nova Scotia’s Mineral Resources Development Fund. (Photo: Kelly Clark/Communications Nova Scotia)

Vapour trails from an ancient volcano may point the way to an economic opportunity in modern-day Nova Scotia.

Researchers at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are using the composition of ancient volcanic vapours, trapped in tiny fragments in rocks, and other geological features, to learn more about a type of precious metal deposit called epithermal gold. Their work over the past year was supported by the province’s Mineral Resources Development Fund.

Geology professor Dr. Jacob Hanley said the project’s goal is to gather information on how and when the gold deposits formed, and to generate exploration criteria that may predict where the highest concentrations of gold may be found in the province. Giving companies a better idea where to explore has financial and environmental benefits.

“The more information we gain about where the deposits are sitting in this vast array of rocks which we have in the province, the better off the environment will be. The overall footprint is smaller in terms of that activity.”

Hanley and PhD student Kevin Neyedley received a $47,500 grant from the development fund in 2018 for their project, which focuses on deposits in the Eastern Cobequid Highlands. The area is about 50 kilometres north of Truro, Nova Scoita.

Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette says investments through the fund make connections and develop new ideas in the mineral resource sector. (Photo: Kelly Clark/Communications Nova Scotia)

Last year, the province provided almost $800,000 through the development fund to support 28 projects. The work included mineral exploration programs, professional development, university research and training opportunities for young people.

Applications for 2019 grants are now available, and the total amount available has grown to $1.5 million.

The fund helps businesses, prospectors and academics with their innovative projects. The goal is to attract investment to Nova Scotia and grow the economy. Projects funded by the province also help create jobs, especially in rural areas.

“Mining is a globally competitive sector that creates career opportunities for our young people, while generating revenue for programs and services that benefit all Nova Scotians,” said Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. “These investments make connections and develop new ideas that help our companies stay at the forefront of technology and environmental protection.”

Those involved in industry and university research in the province say their projects would not have gone forward without the funding.

Dr. Jacob Hanley and Kevin Neyedley chat with Sean Kirby, left, executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, and Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. (Photo: Kelly Clark/CNS)

“Our investment in Nova Scotia can be directly attributed to efforts made by the province to support prospectors,” said Greg Collins, chief operating officer at Transition Metals, a mineral exploration company based in Sudbury, Ontario. “The fund has helped us generate some very encouraging results that could attract new investment and allow us to consider acquiring additional projects in Nova Scotia.”

The research funding is also helping geology students with their studies and career plans. Among them is PD candidate Neyedley, who has completed a six-month internship at Energy and Mines.

“As a student, the MRDF has given me the opportunity to utilize state-of-the-art analytical techniques that are predominantly used to study known mineral deposits and applying these techniques to an under-explored area in Nova Scotia.”

Additional investment, innovation with an environmental benefit, and opportunities for young people. When talking about the benefits of supporting projects in the mineral resource sector, we’re not spewing hot air.

To apply or find out more about Nova Scotia’s Mineral Resources Development Fund, visit here .